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$il'iU>.^t.^O 




^artiarb College Itiirarp 

FROM 



.^ r J^ 






n 






TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



Thb God in thb Car 
A Changb of Air 
A Man of Mark 

Thb Chroniclbs of Count Antonio 

Phroso 

Simon Dalb' 

Thb King's Mirror 

QUISANT^ 

Thb Dolly Dialogues 
A Servant of the Public 






. V 



I ; 



TALES OF TWO 

PEOPLE 



BY 

ANTHONY HOPE 

AUTHOR OF '*THB OOLLT DIALOGUES," "THB KING'S MIKKOII," ETC 



WITH A FRONTISPIECE BY A. H. BUCK LAND 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 



V'.\ ■•••<■, 



^"^ 







UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARY , 
JAN 31 Jb:)/ / 



Firsi PuNiskid in book form in i^ofj 



CONTENTS 



hblsna's path 



MRS THISTLSTON'S PRINCESS . 
THE NECESSARY RESOURCES . 
MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 



THE PRINCE CONSORT 



WHAT WAS EXPECTED OF MISS CONSTANTINE 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 



THE GREY FROCK 



FOREORDAINED 



PRUDENCE AND THE BISHOP 



THE OPENED DOOR 



love's LOGIC 



LA MORT A LA MODE . 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON . 
THE duke's allotment 



PACK 
I 

loa 
129 

M9 
174 

207 
220 

a4S 
aS3 

267 

275 
288 

3»o 



HELENA'S PATH 

CHAPTER I 

AMBROSE, LORD LYNBOROUGH 

/^OMMON opinion said that Lord Lynborough 
^ ought never to have had a peerage and forty 
thousand a year ; he ought to have had a pound a week 
and a back bedroom in Bloomsbury. Then he would 
have become an eminent man ; as it was, he turned out 
only a singularly erratic individual. 

So much for common opinion. Let no more be 
heard of its dull utilitarian judgments! There are 
plenty of eminent men — at the moment, it is believed, 
no less than seventy Cabinet and ex-Cabinet Ministers 
(or thereabouts) — to say nothing of Bishops, Judges, 
and the British Academy — and all this in a nook 
of the world ! (And the world too is a point !) Lyn- 
borough was something much more uncommon ; it 
is not, however, quite easy to say what Let the 
question be postponed; perhaps the story itself will 
answer it 

He started life — or was started in it — in a series 
of surroundings of unimpeachable orthodoxy — Eton, 
Christ Church, the Grenadier Guards. He left each of 
these schools of mental culture and bodily discipline, 
not under a cloud — that metaphor would be ludicrously 
inept — but in an explosion. That, having been thus 
shot out of the first, he managed to enter the second — 
that, having been shot out of the second, he walked 
placidly into the third — that, having been shot out of 
the third, he suffered no apparent damage from his 



1 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

repeated propulsions — these are matters explicable 
only by a secret knowledge of British institutions. His 
father was strong, his mother came of stock even 
stronger ; he himself — Ambrose Caverly as he then was 
— was very popular, and extraordinarily handsome in 
his unusual outlandish style. 

His father being still alive — and, though devoted to 
him, by now apprehensive of his doings — his means 
were for the next few years limited. Yet he contrived 
to employ himself. He took a soup-kitchen and ran 
it ; he took a yacht and sank it ; he took a public-house, 
ruined it, and got himself severely fined for watering 
the beer in the Temperance interest This injustice 
rankled in him deeply, and seems to have permanently 
influenced his development. For a time he forsook the 
world and joined a sect of persons who called themselves 
"Theophilanthropists" — and surely no man could call 
himself much more than that ? Returning to mundane 
affairs, he refused to pay his rates, stood for Parliament 
in the Socialist interest, and, being defeated, declared 
himself a practical follower of Count Tolstoy. His 
father advising a short holiday, he went off and nar- 
rowly escaped being shot somewhere in the Balkans, 
owing to his having taken too keen an interest in local 
politics. (He ought to have been shot ; he was clear — 
and even vehement— on that point in a letter which he 
wrote to The Times.) Then he sent for Leonard Stabb, 
disappeared in company with that gentleman, and was 
no more seen for some years. 

He could always send for Stabb, so faithful was 
that learned student's affection for him. A few years 
Ambrose Caverly's senior, Stabb had emerged late and 
painfully from a humble origin and a local grammar 
school, had gone up to Oxford as a non-coll^ate 
man, had gained a first-class and a fellowship, and had 
settled down to a life of research. Early in his career 
he became known by the sobriquet of " Cromlech Stabb " 
*-even his unlearned friends would call him " Cromlech " 



HELENA'S PATH 3 

oftener than by any other name. His elaborate mono- 
graph on cromlechs had earned him the title; subse- 
quently he extended his researches to other relics of 
ancient religions — or ancient forms of religion, as he 
always preferred to put it; "there being," he would 
add, with the simplicity of erudition beaming through 
his spectacles on any auditor, orthodox or other, "of 
course, only one religion." He was a very large stout 
man; his spectacles were large too. He was very 
strong, but by no means mobile. Ambrose's father 
r^^ded Stabb's companionship as a certain safeguard 
to his heir. The validity of this idea is doubtful. 
Students have so much curiosity — and so many diverse 
scenes and various types of humanity can minister, to 
that appetite of the mind. 

Occasional rumours about Ambrose Caverly reached 
his native shores ; he was heard of in Morocco, located 
in Spain, familiar in North and in South America. 
Once he was not heard of for a year ; his father and 
friends concluded that he must be dead— or in prison. 
Happily the latter explanation proved correct. Once 
more he and the law had come to loggerheads ; when 
he emerged from confinement he swore never to employ 
on his own account an instrument so hateful. 

*' A gentleman should fight his own battles, Cromlech," 
he cried to his friend. " I did no more than put a bullet 
in his arm — in a fair encounter — and he let me go to 
prison ! " 

** Monstrous ! " Stabb agreed with a smile. He had 
passed the year in a dirty little inn by the prison gate — 
among scoundrels, but fortunately in the vicinity of 
some mounds distinctly prehistoric. 

Old Lord Lynborough's death occurred suddenly and 
unexpectedly, at a moment when Ambrose and his 
companion could not be found. They were somewhere 
in Peru — Stabb among the Incas, Ambrose probably in 
less ancient company. It was six months before the 
news reached them. 



4 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" I must go home and take up my responsibilities, 
Cromlech," said the new Lord Lynborough. 

"You really think you'd better?" queried Stabb 
doubtfully. 

"It was my father's wish." 

"Oh, well 1 But you'll be thought odd over 

there, Ambrose." 

" Odd ? I odd ? What the deuce is there odd about 
me. Cromlech?" 

"Everything." The investigator stuck his cheroot 
back in his mouth. 

Lynborough considered dispassionately — as he fain 
would hope. "I don't see it." 

That was the difficulty. Stabb was well aware of it 
A man who is odd, and knows it, may be proud, but he 
will be careful ; he may swagger, but he will take pre- 
cautions. Lynborough had no idea that he was odd ; 
he followed his nature — in all its impulses and in all its 
whims — with equal fidelity and simplicity. This is not 
to say that he was never amused at himself; every 
intelligent observer is amused at himself pretty often ; 
but he did not doubt merely because he was amused. 
He took his entertainment over his own doings as a 
bonus life offered. A great sincerity of action and of 
feeling was his predominant characteristic. 

"Besides, if I'm odd," he went on with a laugh, "it 
won't be noticed. I'm going to bury myself at Scarsmoor 
for a couple of years at least. I'm thinking of writing 
an autobiography. You'll come with me. Cromlech ? " 

" I must be totally undisturbed," Stabb stipulated. 
" I've a great deal of material to get into shape," 

" There'll be nobody there but myself — and a secre- 
tary, I daresay." 

" A secretary ? What's that for ? " 

" To write the book, of course." 

" Oh, I see," said Stabb, smiling in a slow fat fashion. 
•• You won't write your autobiography yourself? " 

" Not unless I find it very engrossing." 



HELENA'S PATH 5 

"Well, ril come," said Stabb. 

So home they came — an unusual-looking pair — Stabb 
with his towering bulky frame, his big goggles, his huge 
head with its scanty black locks encircling a face like a 
harvest moon — Lynborough, tall, too, but lean as a lath, 
with tiny feet and hands, a rare elegance of carriage, a 
crown of chestnut hair, a long straight nose, a waving 
moustache, a chin pointed like a needle and scarcely 
thickened to the eye by the close-cropped, short, 
pointed beard he wore. His bright hazel eyes gleamed 
out from his face with an attractive restlessness that 
caught away a stranger's first attention even from the 
rare beauty of the lines of his head and face ; it was 
r^ularity over-refined, sharpened almost to an outline 
of itself. But his appearance tempted him to no ex- 
cesses of costume ; he had always despised that facile 
path to a barren eccentricity. On every occasion he 
wore what all men of breeding were wearing, yet in- 
vested the prescribed costume with the individuality of 
his character : this, it seems, is as near as the secret of 
dressing well can be tracked. 

His manner was not always deemed so free from 
affectation ; it was, perhaps, a little more self-conscious ; 
it was touched with a foreign courtliness, and he 
employed, on occasions of any ceremony or in inter- 
course with ladies, a certain formality of speech ; it was 
said of him by an observant woman that he seemed to 
be thinking in a language more ornate and picturesque 
than his tongue employed. He was content to say the 
apt thing, not striving after wit ; he was more prone to 
hide a joke than to tell it ; he would ignore a victory 
and laugh at a defeat ; yet he followed up the one and 
never sat down under the other, unless it were inflicted 
by one he loved. He liked to puzzle, but took no con- 
scious pains to amuse. 

Thus he returned to his " responsibilities." Cromlech 
Stabb was wondering what that dignified word would 
prove to describe. 



6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

CHAPTER II 

LARGELY TOPOGRAPHICAL 

Miss Gilletson had been studying the local paper, 
which appeared every Saturday and reached Nab 
Grange on the following morning. She uttered an 
exclamation, looked up from her small breakfast-table, 
and called over to the Marchesa's small breakfast-table. 

" Helena, I see that Lord Lynborough arrived at the 
Castle on Friday ! " 

"Did he, Jennie?" returned the Marchesa, with no 
show of interest. " Have an egg, Colonel ? " The latter 
words were addressed to her companion at table, 
Colonel Wenman, a handsome but bald-headed man 
of about forty. 

" * Lord Lynborough, accompanied by his friend Mr 
Leonard Stabb, the well-known authority on prehistoric 
remains, and Mr Roger Wilbraham, his private secretary. 
His lordship's household had preceded him to the 
Castle.'" 

Lady Norah Mountliffey — who sat with Miss Gillet- 
son — ^was in the habit of saying what she thought 
What she said now was : " Thank goodness I " and she 
said it rather loudly. 

"You gentlemen haven't been amusing Norah," 
observed the Marchesa to the Colonel. 

" I hoped that I, at least, was engaged on another task 
— though, alas, a harder one!" he answered in a low 
tone and with a glance of respectful homage. 

"If you refer to me, you've been admirably success- 
ful," the Marchesa assured him graciously — only with 
the graciousness there mingled that touch of mockery 
which always made the Colonel rather ill at ease. 
"Amuse" is, moreover, a word rich in shades of 
meaning. 

Miss Gilletson was frowning thoughtfully. " Helena 



HELENA'S PATH 7 

can't call on him — and I don't suppose he'll call on her/' 
she said to Norah. 

** He'll get to know her if he wants to." 

*' I might call on him," suggested the Colonel. '' He 
was in the service, you know, and that — er — ^makes a 
bond. Queer fellow he was, by Jove ! " 

Captain Irons and Mr Stillford came in from riding, 
late for breakfast They completed the party at table, 
for Violet Dufaure always took the first meal of the day 
in bed. Irons was a fine young man, still in the twenties, 
very fair and very bronzed. He had seen fighting and 
was great at polo. Stillford, though a man of peace (if a 
solicitor may so be called), was by no means inferior in 
physique. A cadet of a good county family, he was 
noted in the hunting field and as a long-distance 
swimmer. He had come to Nab Grange to confer with 
the Marchesa on her affairs, but, proving himself an 
acquisition to the party, had been pressed to stay on as 
a guest 

The men b^an to bandy stories of Lynborough from 
one table to the other. Wenman knew the London 
gossip, Stillford the local traditions : but neither had 
seen the hero of their tales for many years. The anec- 
dotes delighted Norah Mountliffey, and caused Miss 
Gilletson's hands to fly up in horror. Nevertheless it 
was Miss Gilletson who said, " Perhaps we shall see him 
at church to-day." 

" Not likely ! " Stillford opined. " And— er— is any- 
body going?" 

The pause which habitually follows this question 
ensued upon it now. Neither the Marchesa nor Lady 
Norah would go — they were both of the Old Church. 
Miss Dufaure was unlikely to go, by reason of fatigue. 
Miss Gilletson would, of course, go, so would Colonel 
Wenman — but that was so well known that they didn't 
speak. 

"Any ladies with Lynborough's party, I wonder!" 
Captain Irons hazarded. " I think I'll go ! Stillford, 



8 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

you ought to go to church — family solicitor and all 
that, eh?" 

A message suddenly arrived from Miss Dufaure, to 
say that she felt better and proposed to attend church — 
could she be sent ? 

" The carriage is going anyhow/' said Miss Gilletson 
a trifle stiffly. 

" Yes, I suppose I ought," Stillford agreed. " We'll 
drive there and walk back ? " 

" Right you are ! " said the Captain. 

By following the party from Nab Grange to Fillby 
parish church, a partial idea of the locality would be 
gained ; but perhaps it is better to face the complete 
task at once. Idle tales suit idle readers; a history 
such as this may legitimately demand from those who 
study it some degree of mental application. 

If, then, the traveller lands from the North Sea 
(which is the only sea he can land from) he will find 
himself on a sandy beach, dipping rapidly to deep 
water and well adapted for bathing. As he stands 
facing inland, the sands stretch in a long line southerly 
on his left ; on his right rises the bold bluff of Sandy 
Nab with its swelling outline, its grass-covered dunes, 
and its sparse firs ; directly in front of him, abutting 
on the beach, is the high wall enclosing the Grange 
property; a gate in the middle gives access to the 
grounds. The Grange faces south, and lies in the 
shelter of Sandy Nab. In front of it are pleasure- 
grounds, then a sunk fence, then spacious meadow-lands. 
The property is about a mile and a half (rather more 
than less) in length, to half-a-mile in breadth. Besides 
the Grange there is a small farmhouse, or bailiffs house, 
in the south-west corner of the estate. On the north 
the boundary consists of moorlands, to the east (as 
has been seen) of the beach, to the west and south of 
a public road. At the end of the Grange walls this 
road turns to the right, inland, and passes by Fillby 
village ; it then develops into the highroad to Eas- 



HELENA'S PATH 9 

thorpe with its market, shops, and station, ten miles 
away. Instead, however, of pursuing this longer route, 
the traveller from the Grange grounds may reach Fillby 
and Easthorpe sooner by crossing the road on the west, 
and traversing the Scarsmoor Castle property, across 
which runs a broad carriage road, open to the public. 
He will first — after entering Lord Lynborough's gates — 
pass over a bridge which spans a little river, often 
nearly dry, but liable to be suddenly flooded by a rain- 
fall in the hills. Thus he enters a beautiful demesne, 
rich in wood and undergrowth, in hill and valley, in 
pleasant rides and winding drives. The Castle itself 
— an ancient grey building, square and massive, stands 
on an eminence in the north-west extremity of the 
property ; the ground drops rapidly in front of it, and 
it commands a view of Nab Grange and the sea beyond, 
being in its turn easily visible from either of these 
points. The road above mentioned, on leaving Lyn- 
borough's park, runs across the moors in a south-westerly 
line to Fillby, a little village of some three hundred 
souls. All around and behind this, stretching to Eas- 
thorpe, are great rolling moors, rich in beauty as in 
opportunities for sport, yet cutting off the little settle- 
ment of village, Castle, and Grange from the outer 
world by an isolation more complete than the mere 
distance would in these days seem to entail. The 
church, two or three little shops, and one policeman, 
sum up Fillby's resources: anything more, for soul's 
comfort, for body's supply or protection, must come 
across the moors from Easthorpe. 

One point remains — reserved to the end by reason 
of its importance. A gate has been mentioned as open- 
ing on to the beach from the grounds of Nab Grange. 
He who enters at that gate and makes for the Grange 
follows the path for about two hundred yards in a 
straight line, and then takes a curving turn to the right, 
which in time brings him to the front door of the house. 
But the path goes on — growing indeed narrower, ulti- 



lo TALES OF TWO PEOPLE ^ 

mately becoming a mere grass-grown track, yet persist- 
ing quite plain to see — straight across the meadows, 
about a hundred yards beyond the sunk fence which 
bounds the Grange gardens, and in full view from the 
Grange windows ; and it desists not from its course 
till it reaches the rough stone wall which divides the 
Grange estate from the highroad on the west This 
wall it reaches at a point directly opposite to the Scars- 
moor lodge ; in the wall there is a gate, through which 
the traveller must pass to gain the road. 

There is a gate — and there had always been a gate ; 
that much at least is undisputed. It will, of course, 
be obvious that if the residents at the Castle desired 
to reach the beach for the purpose of bathing or other 
diversions, and proposed to go on their feet, incompar- 
ably their best, shortest, and most convenient access 
thereto lay through this gate and along the path which 
crossed the Grange property and issued through the 
Grange gate on to the seashore. To go round by the 
road would take at least three times as long. Now 
the season was the mouth of June ; Lord Lynborough 
was a man tenacious of his rights — and uncommonly 
fond of bathing. 

On the other hand, it might well be that the Marchesa 
di San Servolo — the present owner of Nab Grange — 
would prefer that strangers should not pass across her 
property, in full view and hail of her windows, without 
her permission and consent. That this, indeed, was 
the lady's attitude might be gathered from the fact 
that, on this Sunday morning in June, Captain Irons 
and Mr Stillford, walking back through the Scarsmoor 
grounds from Filiby church as they had proposed, 
found the gate leading from the road into the Grange 
meadows securely padlocked. Having ignored this 
possibility, they had to climb, incidentally displacing, 
but carefully replacing, a number of prickly furze 
branches which the zeal of the Marchesa's bailiff had 
arranged along the top rail of the gate. 



HELENA'S PATH ii 

" Boys been coming in ? " asked Irons. 

^ It may be that," said Stillford, smiling as he arranged 
the prickly defences to the best advantage. 

The Grange expedition to church had to confess to 
having seen nothing of the Castle party — and in so far 
it was dubbed a failure. There was indeed a decorous 
row of servants in the household seat, but the square 
oaken pew in the chancel, with its brass rods and red 
curtains in front, and its fireplace at the back, stood 
empty. The two men reported having met, as they 
walked home through Scarsmoor, a very large fat man 
with a face which they described variously, one likening 
it to the sinking sun on a misty day, the other to a 
copper saucepan. 

" Not Lord Lynborough, I do trust ! " shuddered little 
Violet Dufaure. She and Miss Gilletson had driven 
home by the road, regaining the Grange by the south 
gate and the main drive. 

Stillford was by the Marchesa. He spoke to her 
softly, covered by the general conversation. "You 
might have told us to take a key ! " he said reproach- 
fully. " That gorse is very dangerous to a man's Sunday 
clothes." 

" It looks — businesslike, doesn't it ? " she smiled. 

" Oh, uncommon I When did you have it done ? " 

"The day before yesterday. I wanted there to be 
no mistake from the very first That's the best way 
to prevent any unpleasantness." 

" Possibly." Stillford sounded doubtful. " Going to 
have a notice-board, Marchesa ? " 

" He will hardly make that necessary, will he ? " 

" Well, I told you that in my judgment your right to 
shut it against him is very doubtful." 

"You told me a lot of things I didn't understand," 
she retorted rather pettishly. 

He shrugged his shoulders with a laugh. No good 
lay in anticipating trouble. Lord Lynborough might 
taJce no notice. 



12 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

In the afternoon the Marchesa's guests played golf 
on a rather makeshift nine-hole course laid out in the 
meadows. Miss Gilletson slept. The Marchesa herself 
mounted the top of Sandy Nab, and reviewed her situa- 
tion. The Colonel would doubtless have liked to ac- 
company her, but he was not thereto invited. 

Helena Vittoria Maria Antonia, Marchesa di San 
Servolo, was now in her twenty-fourth year. Born of 
an Italian father and an English mother, she had be- 
stowed her hand on her paternal country, but her heart 
remained in her mother's. The Marchese took her as 
his second wife and his last pecuniary resource ; in both 
capacities she soothed his declining years. Happily for 
her — and not unhappily for the world at large — tihese 
were few. He had not time to absorb her youth or to 
spend more than a small portion of her inheritance. 
She was left a widow — stepmother of adult Italian 
offspring — owner for life of an Apennine fortress. She 
liked the fortress much, but disliked the stepchildren 
(the youngest was of her own age) more. England — 
her mother's home — presented itself in the light of a 
refuge. In short, she had grave doubts about ever 
returning to Italy. 

Nab Grange was in the market Ancestrally a 
possession of the Caverlys (for centuries a noble but 
unennobled family in those parts), it had served for the 
family's dower house, till a bad race-meeting had induced 
the squire of the day to sell it to a Mr Cross of Leeds. 
The Crosses held it for seventy years. Then the 
executors of the last Cross sold it to the Marchesa. 
This final transaction happened a year before Lyn- 
t>orough came home. The " Beach Path " had, as above 
recorded, been closed only for two days. 

The path was not just now in the Marchesa's thoughts. 
Nothing very definite was. Rather, as her eyes ranged 
from moor to sea, from the splendid uniformity of the 
unclouded sky to the ravishing variety of many-tinted 
earth, from the green of the Grange meadows (the one 



HELENA'S PATH 13 

spot of rich emerald on the near coastline, owing its 
hues to Sandy Nab's kindly shelter) to the grey mass of 
Scarsmoor Castle — there was in her heart that great 
mixture of content and longing that youth and — (what 
put bluntly amounts to) — a fine day are apt to raise. 
And youth allied with beauty becomes self-assertive, a 
claimant against the world, a plaintiff against facts before 
High Heaven's tribunal. The Marchesa was infinitely 
delighted with Nab Grange — graciously content with 
Nature — not ill-pleased with herself— but, in fine, some- 
what discontented with her company. That was her- 
self? Not precisely, though, at the moment, objectively. 
She was wondering whether her house party was all that 
her youth and her beauty — to say nothing of her past 
endurance of the Marchese — entitled her to claim and 
to enjoy. 

Then suddenly across her vision, cutting the skyline, 
seeming to divide for a moment heaven above from 
earth beneath, passed a tall meagre figure, and a head 
of lines clean as if etched by a master's needle. The 
profile stood as carved in fine ivory ; glints of colour 
flashed from hair and beard. The man softly sang a 
love song as he walked — but he never looked towards 
the Marchesa. 

She sat up suddenly. "Could that be Lord Lyn- 
borough?" she thought — and smiled. 



CHAPTER III 

OF LAW AND NATURAL RIGHTS 

Lyn BOROUGH sat on the terrace which ran along the 
front of the Castle and looked down, over Nab Grange, 
to the sea. With him were Leonard Stabb and Roger 
Wilbraham. The latter was a rather short, slight man 
of dark complexion ; although a light weight he was 
very wiry and a fine boxer. His intellectual gifls 



14 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

corresponded well with his physical equipment; an 
acute ready mind was apt to deal with everyday 
problems and pressing necessities; it had little turn 
either for speculation or for fancy. He had dreams 
neither about the past, like Stabb, nor about present 
things, like Lynborough. His was, in a word, the 
practical spirit, and Lynborough could not have chosen 
a better right-hand man. 

They were all smoking ; a silence had rested long over 
the party. At last Lynborough spoke. 

"There's always," he said, "something seductive in 
looking at a house when you know nothing about the 
people who live in it" 

" But I know a good deal about them," Wilbraham 
interposed with a laugh. " Coltson's been pumping all 
the village, and Tve had the benefit of it." Coltson was 
Lynborough's own man, an old soldier who had been 
with him nearly fifteen years and had accompanied him 
on all his travels and excursions. 

Lynborough paid no heed ; he was not the man to be 
put off his reflections by intrusive facts. 

" The blank wall of a strange house is like the old 
green curtain at the theatre. It may rise for you any 
moment and show you — what ? Now what is there at 
Nab Grange ? " 

"A lot of country bumpkins, I expect," growled 
Stabb. 

" No, no," Wilbraham protested. " Til tell you, if you 
like " 

"What's there?" Lynborough pursued. "I don't 
know. You don't know — no, you don't, Roger, and you 
probably wouldn't even if you were inside. But I like 
not knowing — I don't want to know. We won't visit at 
the Grange, I think. We will just idealise it, Crom- 
lech." He cast his queer elusive smile at his friend. 

** Bosh ! " said Stabb. " There's sure to be a woman 
there — and I'll be bound she'll call on you I " 

"She'Ucallonme? Why?" 



HELENA'S PATH 15 

** Because you're a lord," said Stabb, scorning any 
more personal form of flattery. 

"ThiaLt fortuitous circumstance should, in my judg- 
ment, rather afford me protection." 

"If you come to that, she's somebody herself." 
Wilbraham's knowledge would bubble out, for all the 
want of encouragement. 

"Everybody's somebody," murmured Lynborough — 
" and it is a very odd arrangement Can't be regarded 
as permanent, eh. Cromlech? Immortality by merit 
seems a better idea. And by merit I mean originality. 
Well — I sha'n't know the Grange, but I like to look at 
it The way I picture her " 

" Picture whom ? " asked Stabb. 

" Why, the Lady of the Grange, to be sure " 

" Tut, tut, who's thinking of the woman ? — If there is 
a woman at all." 

" I am thinking of the woman. Cromlech, and I've a 
perfect right to think of her. At least, if not of that 
woman, of a woman — whose like I've never met." 

" She must be of an unusual type," opined Stabb with 
a reflective smile. 

" She is, Cromlech. Shall I describe her ? " 

" I expect you must." 

"Yes, at this moment — with the evening just this 
colour — and the Grange down there — and the sea. 
Cromlech, so remarkably large, I'm afraid I must. She 
is, of course, tall and slender; she has, of course, a 
rippling laugh; her eyes are, of course, deep and 
dreamy, yet lighting to a sparkle when one challenges. 
All this may be presupposed. It's her tint, Cromlech, 
her colour — that's what's in my mind to-night; that, 
you will find, is her most distinguishing, her most 
wonderful characteristic" 

" That's just what the Vicar told Coltson ! At least 
he said that the Marchesa had a most extraordinary 
complexion." Wilbraham had got something out at 
last 



1 6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" Roger, you bring me back to earth. You substitute 
the Vicar's impression for my imagination. Is that 
kind ? " 

"It seems such a funny coincidence." 

" Supposing it to be a mere coincidence — no doubt ! 
But I've always known that I had to meet that com- 
plexion somewhere. If here — so much the better ! '* 

" I have a great doubt about that/' said Leonard 
Stabb. 

" I can get it over, Cromlech ! At least consider that" 

" But you're not going to know her ! " laughed Wil- 
braham. 

" I shall probably see her as we walk down to bathe 
by Beach Path." 

A deferential voice spoke from behind his chair. " I 
beg your pardon, my lord, but Beach Path is closed." 
Coltson had brought Lynborough his cigar-case and 
laid it down on a table by him as he communicated this 
intelligence. 

" Closed, Coltson ? " 

" Yes, my lord. There's a padlock on the gate, and a 
— er — barricade of furze. And the gardeners tell me 
they were warned off yesterday." 

" My gardeners warned off Beach Path ? " 

" Yes, my lord." 

** By whose orders ? " 

" Her Excellency's, my lord." 

"That's the Marchesa — Marchesa di San Servolo/* 
Wilbraham supplied. 

" Yes, that's the name, sir," said Coltson respectfully. 

"What about her complexion now, Ambrose?" 
chuckled Stabb. 

"The Marchesa di San Servolo? Is that right, 
Coltson ? " 

"Perfectly correct, my lord. Italian, I understand, 
my lord." 

"Excellent, excellent I She has closed my Beach 
Path? I think I have reflected enough for to-night 



HELENA'S PATH 17 

rU go in and write a letter." He rose, smiled upon 
Stabb, who himself was grinning broadly, and walked 
through an open window into the house. 

" Now you may see something happen," said Leonard 
Stabb. 

''What's the matter? Is it a public path?" asked 
Wilbraham. 

With a shrug Stabb denied all knowledge — and, 
probably, all interest Coltson, who had lingered be- 
hind his master, undertook to reply. 

** Not exactly public, as I understand, sir. But the 
Castle has always used it Green — that's the head 
gardener — tells me so, at least" 

"By legal right, do you mean?" Wilbraham had 
been called to the Bar, although he had never practised. 
No situation gives rise to greater confidence on legal 
problems. 

" I don't think you'll find that his lordship will trouble 
much about that, sir," was Coltson's answer, as he 
picked up the cigar-case again and hurried intp the 
library with it. 

" What does the man mean by that ? " asked Wil- 
braham scornfully. ** It's a purely legal question — 
Lynborough must trouble about it" He rose and 
addressed Stabb somewhat as though that gentleman 
were the Court " Not a public right of way ? We 
don't argue that ? Then it's a case of dominant and 
servient tenement — a right of way by user as of right, 
or by a lost grant. That — or nothing ! " 

" I daresay," muttered Stabb very absently. 

" Then what does Coltson mean ? " 

" Coltson knows Ambrose — you don't Ambrose will 
never go to law — but he'll go to bathe." 

" But she'll go to law if he goes to bathe ! " cried the 
lawyer. 

Stabb blinked lazily, and seemed to loom enormous 
over his cigar. " I daresay — if she's got a good case," 
said he. "Do you know, Wilbraham, I don't much 

B 



1 8 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

care whether she does or not? But in regard to her 
complexion " 

** What the devil does her complexion matter ? " 
shouted Wilbraham. 

" The human side of a thing always matters," observed 
Leonard Stabb. "For instance — pray sit down, Wil- 
braham — standing up and talking loud prove nothing, 
if people would only believe it — the permanence of 
hierarchical systems may be historically observed to 
bear a direct relation to the emoluments." 

"Would you mind telling me your opinion on two 
points, Stabb ? We can go on with that argument of 
yours afterwards." 

" Say on, Wilbraham." 

"Is Lynborough in his right senses ?" 

" The point is doubtful." 

" Are you in yours ? " 

Stabb reflected. " I am sane — but very highly 
specialised," was his conclusion. 

Wilbraham wrinkled his brow. " All the same, right 
of way or no right of way is purely a legal question," he 
persisted. 

"I think you're highly specialised too," said Stabb. 
"But you'd better keep quiet and see it through, you 
know. There may be some fun — it will serve to amuse 
the Archdeacon when you write." Wilbraham's father 
was a highly-esteemed dignitary of the order mentioned. 

Lynborough came out again, smoking a cigar. His 
manner was noticeably more alert: his brow was un- 
clouded, his whole mien tranquil and placid. 

" I've put it all right," he observed. " I've written her 
a civil letter. Will you men bathe to-morrow ? '* 

They both assented to the proposition. 

" Very well. We'll start at eight. We may as well 
walk. By Beach Path it's only about half-a-mile." 

" But the path's stopped, Ambrose," Stabb objected. 

"I've asked her to have the obstruction removed 
before eight o'clock," Lynborough explained. 



HELENA'S PATH 19 

" If it isn't ? " asked Roger Wilbraham. 

" We have hands/' answered Lynborough, looking at 
his own very small ones. 

" Wilbraham wants to know why you don't go to law, 
Ambrose." 

Lord Lynborough never shrank from explaining his 
views and convictions. 

" The law disgusts me. So does my experience of it. 
You remember the beer, Cromlech ? Nobody ever acted 
more wisely or from better motives. And if I made 
money — as I did, till the customers left off coming — 
why not? I was unobtrusively doing good. Then 
Juanita's affair! I acted as a gentleman is bound to 
act Result — a year's imprisonment I I lay stress on 
these personal experiences, but not too great stress. 
The law, Roger, always considers what you have had 
and what you now have — ^never what you ought to have. 
Take that path I It happens to be a fact that my grand- 
father, and my father, and I have always used that path. 
That's important by law, I daresay " 

" Certainly, Lord Lynborough." 

" Just what would be important by law ! " commented 
Lynborough. " And I have made use of the fact in my 
letter to the Marchesa. But in my own mind I stand on 
reason and natural right Is it reasonable that I, living 
half-a-mile from my bathing, should have to walk two 
miles to get to it? Plainly not. Isn't it the natural 
right of the owner of Scarsmoor to have that path open 
through Nab Grange? Plainly yes. That, Roger, 
although, as I say, not the shape in which I have put 
the matter before the Marchesa — because she, being a 
woman, would be unappreciative of pure reason — is 
really the way in which the question presents itself to 
my mind — and, I'm sure, to Cromlech's?" 

"Not the least in the world to mine," said Stabb. 
"However, Ambrose, the young man thinks us both mad." 

"You do, R(^[er?" His smile persuaded to an affir- 
mative reply. 



20 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" Vm afraid so, Lord Lynborough." 

" No * Lord,* if you love me ! Why do you think me 
mad ? Cromlech, of course, is mad, so we needn't bother 
about him." 

" You're not — not practical," stammered Roger. 

" Oh, I don't know, really I don't know. You'll see 
that I shall get that path open. And in the end I did 
get that public-house closed. And Juanita's husband 
had to leave the country, owing to the heat of local 
feeling — aroused entirely by me. Juanita stayed behind 
and, after due formalities, married again most happily. 
I'm not altogether inclined to call myself unpractical. 
Roger I " He turned quickly to his secretary. " Your 
father's what they call a High Churchman, isn't he?" 

" Yes — and so am I," said Roger. 

*' He has his Church. He puts that above the State, 
doesn't he? He wouldn't obey the State against the 
Church? He wouldn't do what the Church said was 
wrong because the State said it was right?" 

" How could he ? Of course he wouldn't," answered 
Roger. 

" Well, I have my Church — inside here." He touched 
his breast. " I stand where your father does. Why am 
I more mad than the Archdeacon, Roger ? " 

" But there's all the difference I " 

" Of course there is," said Stabb. " All the difference 
that there is between being able to do it and not being 
able to do it — and I know of none so profound." 

" There's no difference at all," declared Lynborough. 
'* Therefore — as a good son, no less than as a good 
friend — ^you will come and bathe with me to-morrow ? " 

" Oh, I'll come and bathe, by all means, Lynborough." 

"By all means! Well said, young man. By all 
means, that is, which are becoming in opposing a lady. 
What precisely those may be we will consider when we 
see the strength of her opposition." 

" That doesn't sound so very unpractical, after all," 
Stabb suggested to Roger. 



HELENA'S PATH 21 

Lynborough took his stand before Stabb, hands in 
pockets, smiling down at the bulk of his friend. 

" O Cromlech, Haunter of Tombs," he said, " Crom- 
lech, Lover of Men long Dead, there is a possible — in- 
deed a probable — chance — there is a divine hope — that 
Life may breathe here on this coast, that the blood 
may run quick, that the world may move, that our old 
friend Fortune may smile, and trick, and juggle, and 
favour us once more. This, Cromlech, to a man who 
had determined to reform, who came home to assume — 
what was it ? Oh yes — responsibilities I — this is most 
extraordinary luck. Never shall it be said that Am- 
brose Caverly, being harnessed and carrying a bow, 
turned himself back in the day of battle I " 

He swayed himself to and fro on his heels, and broke 
into merry laughter. 

" She'll get the letter to-night, Cromlech. I've sent 
Coltson down with it — ^he proceeds decorously by the 
highroad and the main approach. But she'll get it. 
Cromlech, will she read it with a beating heart ? Will 
she read it with a flushing cheek ? And if so. Cromlech, 
what, I ask you, will be the particular shade of that 
particular flush?" 

" Oh, the sweetness of the game ! " said he. 

Over Nab Grange the stars seemed to twinkle 
roguishly. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MESSAGE OF A PADLOCK 

^ Lord Lynborough presents his compliments to her Excellency 
the Marchesa di San Servolo. Lord Lynborough has learnt, witn 
surprise and regret, that his servants have within the last two 
days been warned off Beach Path, and that a padlock and odier 
obstacles have been placed on the gate leading to the path, by her 
Excellency's orders. Lord Lynborough and his predecessors have 
enjoyed tne use of this path by themselves, their agents, and 



as TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

scrianls, for many years back — certainly for fifty, as Lord Lyn- 
borough knows from his father and from old senants, and Lord Lyn- 
borough is not disposed to acquiesce in any obstruction being 
raised to his continued use of it. He must therefore request her 
Excellency to have the kindness to order that the padlock and 
other obstacles shall be removed, and he will be obhged by ibis 
being done before eight o'clock to-morrow morning — at which 
time Lord Lynborough intends to proceed by Beach Path to the 
sea in order lo bathe. Scarsmoor Castle : 13th June." 

The reception of this letter proved an agreeable inci- 
dent of an otherwise rather dull Sunday evening at 
Nab Grange. The Marchess had been bored ; the 
Colonel was sulky. Miss Gilletson had forbidden cards ; 
her conscience would not allow herself, nor her feelings 
of envy permit other people, to play on the Sabbath. 
Lady Norah and Violet Dufaure were somewhat at 
cross-purposes, each preferring to talk to Stillford and 
endeavouring, under a false show of amity, to foist 
Captain Irons on to the other. 

"Listen to this!" cried the Marchesa vivaciously. 
She read it out. " He doesn't beat about the bush, does 
he? I'm to surrender before eight o'clock to-morrow 
morning I " 

"Sounds rather a peremptory sort of a chap!" ob- 
served Colonel VVenman. 

" I," remarked Lady Norah, "shouldn't so much as 
answer him, Helena." 

" I shall certainly answer him and tell him that he'll 
trespass on my property at his peril," said the Marchesa 
haughtily. " Isn't that the right way to put it, Mr 
Stillford?" 

" If it would be a trespass, that might be one way to 
put it," was Stillford's professionally cautious advice. 
"But as I ventured to tell you when you determined to 
put on the padlock, the rights in the matter are not 
quite as clear as we could wish." 

" When I bought this place, I bought a private 
estate— a private estate, Mr Stillford — for myself — 
not a short cut for Lord Lynborough ! Am I to put 



HELENA'S PATH 23 

up a notice for him, 'This Way to the Bathing 
Machines ' ? " 

" I wouldn't stand it for a moment" Captain Irons 
sounded bellicose. 

Violet Dufaure was amicably inclined. 

"You might give him leave to walk through. It 
would be a bore for him to go round by the road 
every time." 

" Certainly I might give him leave if he asked for it," 
retorted the Marchesa rather sharply. " But he doesn't. 
He orders me to open my gate — and tells me he means 
to bathe ! As if I cared whether he bathed or not ! 
What is it to me, I ask you, Violet, whether the man 
bathes or not ? " 

" I beg your pardon, Marchesa, but aren't you getting 
a little off the point?" Stillford intervened deferentially. 

" No, I'm not I never get off the point, Mr Stillford. 
Do I, Colonel Wenman?" 

" I've never known you to do it in my life, Marchesa." 
There was, in fact, as Lynborough had ventured to 
anticipate, a flush on the Marchesa's cheek, and the 
Colonel knew his place. 

" There, Mr Stillford I " she cried triumphantly. Then 
she swept — the expression is really applicable — across 
the room to her writing-table. " I shall be courteous, 
but quite decisive," she announced over her shoulder as 
she sat down. 

Stillford stood by the fire, smiling doubtfully. Evi- 
dently it was no use trying to stop the Marchesa ; she 
had insisted on locking the gate, and she would persist 
in keeping it locked till she was forced, by process of 
law or otherwise, to open it again. But if the Lords of 
Scarsmoor Castle really had used it without interrup- 
tion for fifty years (as Lord Lynborough asserted)— 
well, the Marchesa's rights were at least in a precarious 
position. 

The Marchesa came back with her letter in her hand. 
* * The Marchesa di San Servolo,' " she read out to an 



24 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

admiring audience, ** ' presents her compliments to Lord 
Lynborough. The Marchesa has no intention of re- 
moving the padlock and other obstacles which have 
been placed on the gate to prevent trespassing — either 
by Lord Lynborough or by anybody else. The Mar- 
chesa is not concerned to know Lord Lynborough's 
plans in regard to bathing or otherwise. Nab Grange ; 
13th June.'" 

The Marchesa looked round on her friends with a 
satisfied air. 

"I call that good," she remarked. "Don't you, 
Norah ? " 

" I don't like the last sentence." 

" Oh yes ! Why, that'll make him angrier than any- 
thing else ! Please ring the bell for me, Mr Stillford ; 
it's just behind you." 

The butler came back. 

"Who brought Lord Lynborough's letter?" asked 
the Marchesa. 

" I don't know who it is, your Excellency— one of the 
upper servants at the Castle, I think." 

" How did he come to the house ? " 

" By the drive — from the south gate — I believe, your 
Excellency." 

" I'm glad of that," she declared, looking positively 
dangerous. " Tell him to go back the same way, and 
not by the — by what Lord Lynborough chooses to call 
* Beach Path.' Here's a letter for him to take." 

" Very good, your Excellency." The butler received 
the letter and withdrew. 

"Yes," said Lady Norah, "rather funny he should 
call it Beach Path, isn't it ? " 

" I don't know whether it's funny or not, Norah, but 
I do know that I don't care what he calls it. He may 
call it Piccadilly if he likes, but it's my path all the 
same." As she spoke she looked, somewhat defiantly, 
at Mr Stillford. 

Violet Dufaure, whose delicate frame held an in- 



HELENA'S PATH 25 

domitable and indeed pugnacious spirit, appealed to 
Stillford; ** Can't Helena have him taken up if he 
trespasses ? " 

" Well, hardly, Miss Dufaure. The remedy would lie 
in the civil courts." 

'* Shall I bring an action against him? Is that it? 
Is that right ? " cried the Marchesa. 

" Thaf s the ticket, eh, Stillford ? " asked the Colonel. 

Stillford's position was difficult ; he had the greatest 
doubt about his client's case. 

*' Suppose you leave him to bring the action?" he 
suggested. " When he does, we can fully consider our 
position." 

" But if he insists on using the path to-morrow ? " 

''He'll hardly do that," Stillford persuaded her. 
" You'll probably get a letter from him, asking for the 
name of your solicitor. You will give him my name; 
I shall obtain the name of his solicitor, and we shall 
settle it between us — amicably, I hope, but in any case 
without further personal trouble to you, Marchesa." 

" Oh I " said the Marchesa blankly. " That's how it 
will be, will it?" 

" That's the usual course — ^the proper way of doing 
the thing." 

" It may be proper ; it sounds very dull, Mr Stillford. 
What if he does try to use the path to-morrow — ^*in 
order to bathe ' as he's good enough to tell me ? " 

" If you're right about the path, then you've the right 
to stop him," Stillford answered rather reluctantly. ''If 
you do stop him, that, of course, raises the question in 
a concrete form. You will offer a formal resistance. 
He will make a formal protest Then the lawyers 
step in." 

" We always end with the lawyers — and my lawyer 
doesn't seem sure I'm right!" 

"Well. I'm not sure," said Stillford bluntly. "It's 
impossible to be sure at this stage of the case." 

^ For all I see, he may use my path to-morrow I " 



26 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

The Marchesa was justifying her boast that she could 
stick to a point. 

" Now that you've lodged your objection, that won't 
matter much l^ally." 

"It will annoy me intensely," the Marchesa com- 
plained. 

"Then we'll stop him," declared Colonel Wenman 
valorously. 

" Politely — but firmly," added Captain Irons. 

" And what do you say, Mr Stillford ?" 

" I'll go with these fellows anyhow — and see that 
they don't overstep the law. No more than the strictly 
necessary force. Colonel ! " 

" I begin to think that the law is rather stupid," said 
the Marchesa. She thought it stupid ; Lynborough 
held it iniquitous; the law was at a discount, and its 
majesty little reverenced, that night. 

Ultimately, however, Stillford persuaded the angry 
lady to — as he tactfully put it — give Lynborough a 
chance. "See what he does first. If he crosses tEe 
path now, after warning, your case is clear. Write to 
him again then, and tell him that, if he persists in tres- 
passing, your servants have orders to interfere." 

" That lets him bathe to-morrow ! " Once more the 
Marchesa returned to her point — a very sore one. 

"Just for once, it really doesn't matter!" Stillford 
urged. 

Reluctantly she acquiesced ; the others were rather 
relieved — not because they objected to a fight, but 
because eight in the morning was rather early to start 
one. Breakfast at the Grange was at nine-thirty, and, 
though the men generally went down for a dip, they 
went much later than Lord Lynborough proposed to 

go. 

" He shall have one chance of withdrawing gracefully," 
the Marchesa finally decided. 

Stillford was unfeignedly glad to hear her say so; 
he had, from a professional point of view, no desire for 



HELENA'S PATH ^^ 

a conflict Inquiries which he had made in Fillby — 
both from men in Scarsmoor Castle employ and from 
independent persons — ^had convinced him that Lyn- 
borough's case was strong. For many years — through 
the time of two Lynboroughs before the present at 
Scarsmoor, and through the time of three Crosses (the 
predecessors of the Marchesa) at Nab Grange, Scars- 
moor Castle had without doubt asserted this dominant 
right over Nab Grange. It had been claimed and 
exercised openly — and, so far as he could discover, 
without protest or opposition. The period, as he 
reckoned it, would prove to be long enough to satisfy 
the law as to prescription ; it was very unlikely that any 
document existed — or anyhow could be found — which 
would serve to explain away the presumption which 
user such as this gave. In fine, the Marchesa's legal 
adviser was of opinion that in a legal fight the Marchesa 
would be beaten. His own hope lay in compromise ; if 
friendly relations could be established, there would be a 
chance of a compromise. He was sure that the Marchesa 
would readily grant as a favour — and would possibly 
give in return for a nominal payment — all that Lyn- 
borough asked. That would be Uie best way out of the 
difficulty. "Let us temporise, and be conciliatory," 
thought the man of law. 

Alas, neither conciliation nor dilatoriness was in Lord 
Lynborough's line! He read the Marchesa's letter 
with appreciation and pleasure. He admired the curt- 
ness of its intimation, and the lofty haughtiness with 
which the writer dismissed the subject of his bathing. 
But he treated the document-^it cannot be said that he 
did wrong — as a plain defiance. It appeared to him 
that no further declaration of war was necessary ; he 
was not concerned to consider evidence nor to weigh 
his case, as Stillford wanted to consider the Marchesa's 
evidence and to weigh her case. This for two reasons : 
first, because he was entirely sure that he was right ; 
secondly, because he had no intention of bringing the 



28 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



question to trial, Lynborough knew but one tribunal ; 
he had pointed out its local habitation to Roger 
Wilbraham. 

Accordingly it fell out that conciliatory counsels and 
Fabian tactics at Nab Grange received a very severe — 
perhaps indeed a fatal — shock the next morning. 

At about nine o'clock the Marchesa was sitting in her 
dressing-gown by the open window, reading her corre- 
spondence and sipping an early cup of tea — she had 
become quite English in her habits. Her maid re- 
entered the room, carrying in her hand a small parceL 
" For your Excellency," she said. "A man has just left 
it at the door." She put the parcel down on the marble 
top of the dressing-table. 

" What is it?" asked the Marchesa indolently, 

" I don't know, your Excellency. It's hard, and very 
heavy for its size." 

Laying down the letter which she had been perusing, 
the Marchesa took up the parcel and cut the string 
which bound it. With a metallic clink there fell on her 
dressing-table — a padlock ! To it was fastened a piece of 
paper, bearing these words : " Padlock found attached to 
gate leading to Beach Path. Detached by order of Lord 
Lynborough. With Lord Lynborough's compliments." 

Now, too, Lynborough might have got his flush — if 
he could have been there to see it ! 

" Bring me my field-glasses! " she cried. 

The window commanded a view of the gardens, of 
the meadows beyond the sunk fence, of the path — 
Beach Path as that man was pleased to call it! — and of 
the gate. At the last-named object the enraged Marchesa 
directed her gaze. The barricade of furze branches 
was gone! The gate hung open upon its hinges! 

While she still looked, three figures came across the 
lens. A very large stout shape — a short spare form — a 
tall, lithe, very lean figure. They were just reaching 
the gate, coming from the direction of the sea. The 
two first were strangers to her ; the third she had i 



. The I 

1 



HELENA'S PATH 29 

for a moment the afternoon before on Sandy Nab. It 
was Lynborough himself, beyond a doubt. The others 
must be friends — she cared not about them. But to sit 
here with the padlock before her, and see Lynborough 
pass through the gate — a meeker woman than she had 
surely been moved to wrath I He had bathed — as he 
had said he would And he had sent her the padlock. 
That was what came of listening to conciliatory counsels, 
of letting herself give ear to dilatory persuasions I 

" War ! " declared the Marchesa. " War — war — war I 
And if he's not careful, I won't confine it to the path 
either 1 " She seemed to dream of conquests, perhaps 
to reckon resources, whereof Mr Stillford, her legal 
adviser, had taken no account 

She carried the padlock down to breakfast with her ; 
it wsls to her as a Fiery Cross ; it summoned her and her 
array to battle. She exhibited it to her guests. 

"Now, gentlemen, I'm in your hands!" said she. 
" Is that man to walk over my property for his miser- 
able bathing to-morrow ? " 

He would have been a bold man who, at that moment, 
would have answered her with a " Yes." 



CHAPTER V 

THE BEGINNING OF WAR 

An enviable characteristic of Lord Lynborough's was 
that, when he had laid the fuse, he could wait patiently 
for the explosion. (That last word tends to recur in 
connection with him.) Provided he knew that his 
adventure and his joke were coming, he occupied the 
interval profitably — which is to say, as agreeably as he 
could. Having launched the padlock — his symbolical 
ultimatum — and asserted his right, he spent the morn- 
ing in dictating to Roger Wilbraham a full, particular, 



30 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

and veracious account of his early differences with the 
Dean of Christ Church. Roger found his task enter- 
taining, for Lynborough's mimicry of his distinguished 
opponent was excellent Stabb meanwhile was amoi^ 
the tombs in an adjacent apartment 

This studious tranquillity was disturbed by the 
announcement of a call from Mr Stillford. Not with- 
out difficulty he had persuaded the Marchesa to let 
him reconnoitre the ground — to try, if it seemed de- 
sirable, the effect of a bit of "bluff" — at anyrate to 
discover, if he could, something of the enemy's plan of 
campaign. Stillford was, in truth, not a little afraid of 
a lawsuit ! 

Lynborough denied himself to no man, and received 
with courtesy every man who came. But his face 
grew grim and his manner distant when Stillford dis- 
counted the favourable effect produced by his appear- 
ance and manner — also by his name, well known in the 
county — by confessing that he called in the capacity of 
the Marchesa's solicitor. 

" A solicitor ? " said Lynborough, slightly raising his 
brows. 

" Yes. The Marchesa does me the honour to place 
her confidence in me ; and it occurs to me that, before 
this unfortunate dispute " 

"Why unfortunate?" interrupted Lynborough with 
an air of some surprise. 

" Surely it is — ^between neighbours ? The Castle and 
the Grange should be friends." His cunning suggestion 
elicited no response. " It occurred to me," he con- 
tinued, somewhat less glibly, "that, before further 
annoyance or expense was caused, it might be well if I 
talked matters over with your lordship's solicitor." 

"Sir," said Lynborough, "saving your presence — 
which, I must b^ you to remember, was not invited 
by me — I don't like solicitors. I have no solicitor. 
I shall never have a solicitor. You can't talk with 
a non-existent person." 



HELENA'S PATH 31 

"But proceedings are the natural — the almost in- 
evitable result — of such a situation as your action has 
created. Lord Lynborough. My client can't be flouted, 
she can't have her indubitable rights outraged " 

"Oo you think they're indubitable?" Lynborough 
put in, with a sudden quick flash of his eyes. 

For an instant Stillford hesitated. Then he made 
his orthodox reply. " As I am instructed, they cer- 
tainly are." 

" Ah I " said Lynborough drily. 

" No professional man could say more than that, Lord 
Lynborough." 

" And they all say just as much ! If I say anything 
you don't like, again remember tliat this interview is 
not of my seeking, Mr Stillford." 

Stillford waxed a trifle sarcastic "You'll conduct 
your case in person?" he asked. 

" If you hale me to court, I shall. Otherwise there's 
no question of a case." 

This time StlUford's eyes brightened ; yet still he 
doubted Lynborough's meaning. 

" We shouldn't hesitate to take our case into court" 

" Since you're wrong, you'd probably win," said Lyn- 
borough, with a smile. " But I'd make it cost you the 
devil of a lot of money. That, at least, the law can do 
— I'm not aware that it can do much else. But, as far 
as I'm concerned, I should as soon appeal to the Pope 
of Rome in this matter as to a law-court — sooner, in fact." 

Stillford grew more confidently happy — and more 
amazed at Lynborough. 

"But you've no right to — er — assert rights if you 
don't intend to support them." 

"I do intend to support them, Mr Stillford. That 
you'll very soon iind out." 

"By force?" Stillford himself was gratified by the 
shocked solemnity which he achieved in this question. 

" If so, your sicfe has no prejudice against legal pro- 
ceedings. Prisons are not strange to me " 



32 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

"What?" Stillford was a little startled. He had 
not heard all the stories about Lord Lynborough. 

" I say, prisons are not strange to \e. If necessary, 
I can do a month. I am, howevei 'ot altogether a 
novice in the somewhat degrading of getting the 
other man to hit first. Then he go< rison, doesn't 

he ? Just like the law I As if that vthing to do 

with the merits I " 

Stillford kept his eye on the point vmu^^.t to him. 
"By supporting your claim I intended to convey 
supporting it by legal action." 

" Oh, the cunning of this world, the cunning of this 
world, Roger 1" He flung himself into an arm-chair, 
laughing. Stillford was already seated. "Take a 
cigarette, Mr Stillford. You want to know whether I'm 
going to law or not, don't you? Well, I'm not Is 
there anything else you want to know? Oh, by the 
way, we don't abstain from the law because we don't 
know the law. Permit me — Mr Stillford, solicitor — Mr 
Roger Wilbraham, of the Middle Temple, Esquire^ 
barrister-at-law. Had I known you were coming, 
Roger should have worn his wig. No, no, we know the 
law — but we hate it" 

Stillford was jubilant at a substantial gain — the 
appeal to law lay within the Marchesa's choice now; 
and that was in his view a great advantage. But he 
was legitimately irritated by Lynborough's sneers at 
his profession. 

" So do most of the people who belong to — the people 
to whom prisons are not strange. Lord Lynborough.** 

" Apostles — ^and so on?" asked Lynborough airily. 

" I hardly recognise your lordship as belonging to 
that — er—er— category." 

"That's the worst of it — nobody will," Lynborough 
admitted candidly. A note of sincere, if whimsical, 
regret sounded in his voice. "I've been trying for 
fifteen years. Yet some day I may be known as St 
Ambrose I " His tones fell to despondency again. ^ St 



HELENA^S PATH :i3 

Ambrose the Less, though — yes, I'm afraid the Less. 
Apostles — even Saints — ^are much handicapped in these 
days, Mr Stillford." 

Stillford rose to his feet. *' You've no more to say to 
me, Lord Lynborough ? " 

'' I don't know that I ever had anything to say to you, 
Mr Stillford You must have gathered before now that 
I intend to use Beach Path." 

" My client intends to prevent you." 

"Yes? — Well, you're three able-bodied men down 
there — so my man tells me — ^you, and the Colonel, and 
the Captain. And we're three up here. It seems to me 
fair enough" 

*' You don't really contemplate settling the matter by 
personal conflict ? " He was half amused, yet genuinely 
stricken in his habits of thought 

'^Entirely a question for your side. We shall use 
the path." Lynborough cocked his head on one side, 
looking up at the sturdy lawyer with a mischievous 
amusement " I shall harry you, Mr Stillford— day and 
night I shall harry you. If you mean to keep me off 
that path, vigils will be your portion. And you won't 
succeed." 

" I make a last appeal to your lordship. The 
matter could, I believe, be adjusted on an amicable 
basis. The Marchesa could be prevailed upon to grant 
permission '* 

" I'd just as soon ask her permission to breathe," 
interrupted Lynborough. 

Then my mission is at an end." 
I congratulate you.'' 

" I beg your pardon ? " 

" Well, you've found out the chief thing you wanted 
to know, haven't you? If you'd asked it point-blank, 
we should have saved a lot of time. Good-bye, Mr 
Stillford. Rc^er, the bell's in reach of your hand." 

"You're pleased to be amused at my expense?" 
Stillford had grown huffy. 



u 



34 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" No — only don't think you've been clever at mine," 
Lynborough retorted placidly. 

So they parted. Lynborough went back to his Dean, 
Stillford to the Marchesa. Still ruffled in his plumes, 
feeling that he had been chaffed and had made no 
adequate reply, yet still happy in the solid, the im- 
portant fact which he had ascertained, he made his 
report to his client. He refrained from openly con- 
gratulating her on not being challenged to a legal fight ; 
he contented himself with observing that it was con- 
venient to be able to choose her own time to take 
proceedings. 

Lady Norah was with the Marchesa. They both 
listened attentively and questioned closely. Not the 
substantial points alone attracted their interest ; Still- 
ford was constantly asked — " How did he look when he 
said that ? " He had no other answer than " Oh — well 
— er — rather queer." He left them, having received 
directions to rebarricade the gate as solidly and as 
offensively as possible ; a board warning off tresspassers 
was also to be erected. 

Although not apt at a description of his inter- 
locutor, yet Stillford seemed to have conveyed an 
impression. 

'' I think he must be delightful," said Norah thought- 
fully, when the two ladies were left together. " I'm sure 
he's just the sort of a man I should fall in love with, 
Helena." 

As a rule the Marchesa admired and applauded 
Norah's candour, praising it for a certain patrician 
flavour — Norah spoke her mind, let the crowd think 
what it would ! On this occasion she was somehow less 
pleased ; she was even a little startled. She was 
conscious that any man with whom Norah was gracious 
enough to fall in love would be subjected to no ordinary 
assault ; the Irish colouring is bad to beat, and Norah 
had it to perfection ; moreover, the aforesaid candour 
makes matters move ahead. 



HELENA'S PATH :is 

" After all, it's my path he's trespassing on, Norah," 
the Marchesa remonstrated. 

They both began to laugh. " The wretch is as hand- 
some as — as a god," sighed Helena. 

" You've seen him ? " eagerly questioned Norah ; and 
the glimpse — that tantalising glimpse— on Sandy Nab 
was confessed to. 

The Marchesa sprang up, clenching her fist " Norah, 
I should like to have &at man at my llet, and then to 
trample on him I Oh, it's not only the path I I believe 
he's laughing at me all the time i " 

" He's never seen you. Perhaps if he did he wouldn't 
laugh. And perhaps you wouldn't trample on him either." 

*^ Ah, but I would 1 " She tossed her head impatiently. 
** Well, if you want to meet him, I expect you can do it 
— on my path to-morrow I " 

This talk left the Marchesa vaguely vexed. Her 
feeling could not be called jealousy ; nothing can hardly 
be jealous of nothing, and even as her acquaintance 
with Lynborough amounted to nothing. Lady Norah's 
also was represented by a cypher. But why should 
Norah want to know him ? It was the Marchesa's path 
— ^by consequence it was the Marchesa's quarrel. Where 
did Norah stand in the matter? The Marchesa had 
perhaps been constructing a little drama. Norah took 
leave to introduce a new character i 

And not Norah alone, as it appeared at dinner. 
Little Violet Dufaure, whose appealing ways were 
notoriously successful with the emotionally weaker sex, 
took her seat at table with a demurely triumphant air. 
Captain Irons reproached her, with polite gallantry, for 
having deserted the croquet lawn after tea. 

**Oh, I went for a walk to Fillby — through Scars- 
moor, you know." 

"Through Scarsmoor, Violet?" The Marchesa 
sounded rather startled again. 

"Ifs a public road, you know, Helena. Isn't it, 
MrStillford?" 



36 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Stillford admitted that it was, " All the same, perhaps 
the less we go there at the present moment " 

"Oh, but Lord Lynborough asked me to come again 
and to go wherever I liked — not to keep to the stupid 
road." 

Absolute silence reigned, Violet looked round with 
a smile which conveyed a general appeal for sympathy ; 
there was, perhaps, special reference to Miss Gilletson 
as the guardian of propriety, and to the Marchesa as 
the owner of the disputed path. 

"You see, 1 took Nellie, and the dear always does 
run away. She ran after a rabbit, I ran after her, of 
course. The rabbit ran into a hole, and I ran into Lord 
Lynborough. Helena, he's charming I " 

" I'm thoroughly tired of Lord Lynborough," said the 
Marchesa icily, 

" He must have known I was staying with you, I 
think ; but he never so much as mentioned you. He 
just ignored you — the whole thing, I mean. Wasn't it 
tactful?" 

Tactful it might have been ; it did not appear to 
gratify the Marchesa. 

"What a wonderful air there is about a — a grand 
seignturV pursued Violet reflectively. "Such a differ- 
ence it makes!" 

That remark did not gratify any of the gentlemen 
present ; it implied a contrast, although it might not 
definitely assert one. 

" It is such a pity that you've quarrelled about that 
silly path I " 

"Oh! oh! Miss Dufaure!" — "I say, come, Mbs 
Dufaure!" — "Er — really, Miss Dufaure!" — these three 
remonstrances may be distributed indifferently among 
the three men. They felt that there was a risk of 
treason in the camp. 

The Marchesa assumed her gr.indest manner; it was 
mediaeval — it was Titianesque, 

"Fortunately, as it seems, Violet, I do not reljh 




HELENA^S PATH 37 

your help to maintain my rights in regard to the 
path. Pray meet Lord Lynborough as often as you 
please, but spare me any unnecessary mention of his 
name.'* 

"I didn't mean any harm. It was all Nellie's 
fault" 

The Marchesa's reply — ^if such it can be called — was 
delivered sotto voce^ yet was distinctly audible. It 
was also brief. She said ^'Nelluf' Nellie was, of 
course, Miss Dufaure's dog. 

Night fell upon an apparently peaceful land. Yet 
Violet was an absentee from the Marchesa's dressing- 
room that nighty and even between Norah and her 
hostess the conversation showed a tendency to flag. 
Norah, for all her courage, dared not mention the name 
of Lynborough, and Helena most plainly would not. 
Yet what else was there to talk about ? It had come to 
that point even so early in the war I 

Meanwhile, up at Scarsmoor Castle, Lynborough, in 
exceedingly high spirits, talked to Leonard Stabb. 

" Yes, Cromlech," he said, " a pretty girl, a very pretty 
girl if you like thdXpettU insinuating style. For myself 
I prefer something a shade more — what shall we call 
it?" 

" Don't care a hang," muttered Stabb. 

" A trifle more in the grand manner, perhaps. Crom- 
lech. And she hadn't anything like the complexion. 
I knew at once that it couldn't be the Marchesa. Do 
you bathe to-morrow morning ? " 

" And get my head broken ? " 

''Just stand still, and let them throw themselves 
against you, Cromlech. Roger ! — Oh, he's gone to bed ; 
stupid thing to do — that I Cromlech, old chap, I'm 
enjoying myself immensely." 

He just touched his old friend's shoulder as he passed 
by : the caress was almost imperceptible. Stabb turned 
his broad red face round to him and laughed ponderously. 

" Oh, and you understand ! " cried Lynborough. 



38 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" I have never myself objected to a bit of fun with the 
girls/' said Stabb. 

Lynborough sank into a chair murmuring delightedly, 
" YouVe priceless, Cromlech I " 



CHAPTER VI 

EXERCISE BEFORE BREAKFAST 

"Life — '* (The extract is from Lynborough's diary, 
dated this same fourteenth of June) — "may be considered 
as a process (Cromlech's view, conducting to the tomb) 
— a programme (as, I am persuaded, Rc^er conceives it, 
marking off each stage thereof with a duly guaranteed 
stamp of performance)— or as a progress — in which 
light I myself prefer to envisage it Process — pro- 
gramme — progress ; the words, with my above-avowed 
preference, sound unimpeachably orthodox. Once I 
had a Bishop ancestor. He crops out. 

" Yet I don't mean what he does. I don't believe in 
growing better in the common sense — that is, in an 
increasing power to resist what tempts you, to refrain 
from doing what you want. That ideal seems to me, 
more and more, to start from the wrong end. No man 
refrains from doing what he wants to do. In the end 
the contradiction — the illogicality — is complete. You 
learn to want more wisely — that's all. Train desire, 
for you can never chain it. 

" I'm engaged here and now on what is to all appear- 
ance the most trivial of businesses. I play the spiteful 
boy — she is an obstinate peevish girl. There are other 
girls too— one an insinuating tiny minx, who would 
wheedle a backward glance out of Simon Stylites as he 
remounted his pillar — and, by the sun in heaven, will 
get little more from this child of Mother Earth ! There's 
another, I hear — Irish! — And Irish is near my heart. 
But behind her — set in the uncertain radiance of my 



HELENA'S PATH 39 

imagination — lies her Excellency. Heaven knows why ! 
Save that it is gloriously paradoxical to meet a foreign 
Excellency in this spot, and to get to most justifiable, 
most delightful, loggerheads with her immediately. I 
have conceived Machiavellian devices. I will lure away 
her friends. I will isolate her, humiliate her, beat her 
in the fight There may be some black eyes — ^some 
bruised hearts — but I shall do it Why? I have 
always been gentle before. But so I feel towards her. 
And therefore I am afraid. This is the foeman for my 
steel, I think — I have my doubts but that she'll beat me 
in the end. 

** When I talk like this. Cromlech chuckles, loves me 
as a show, despises me as a mind. Roger — ^young 
Rc^r Fitz-Archdeacon — is all an incredulous amaze- 
ment I don't wonder. There is nothing so small and 
nothing so great — nothing so primitive and not a thing 
so complex — nothing so unimportant and so engrossing 
as this ' duel of the sexes.' A proves it a trifle, and is 
held great. B reckons it all-supreme, and becomes 
popular. C (a woman) describes the Hunter Man. D 
(a man) descants of the Pursuit by Woman. The oldest 
thing is the most canvassed and the least comprehended. 
But there's a reputation — and I suppose money — in it 
for anybody who can string phrases. There's blood -red 
excitement for everybody who can feel. Yet I've played 
my part in other affairs — not so much in dull old England, 
where you work five years to become a Member of 
Parliament, and five years more in order to get kicked 
out again — but in places where in a night you rise or 
fall — in five minutes order the shooting squad or face 
it — ^boil the cook or are stuffed into the pot yourself. 
(Cromlech, this is not exact scientific statement !) Yet 
always — everywhere — ^the woman ! And why ? On 
my honour, I don't know. What in the end is she ? 

" I adjourn the question — and put a broader one. 
What am I? The human being as such? If I'm a 
vegetable, am I not a mistake? If I'm an animal, am 



4" 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



n 



1 not a. cruelty? If I'm a soul, am I not misplaced? 
I'd say 'Yes' to all this, save that I enjoy myself so 
much. Because I have forty thousand a year? Hardly. 
I've had nothing, and been as completely out of reach 
of getting anything as the veriest pauper that ever 
existed — and yet I've had the deuce of a fine existence 
the while, I think there's only one solid blunder been 
made about man — he oughtn't to have been able to 
think. It wastes time. It makes many people un- 
happy. That's not my case. I like it. It just wastes 
time, 

"That insinuating minx, possessed of a convenient 
dog and an ingratiating manner, insinuated to-day that 
I was handsome. Well, she's pretty, and I suppose 
we're both better off for it. It is an introduction. But 
to myself I don't seem very handsome. I have my 
pride — I look a gentleman. But I look a queer foreign 
fish- I found myself envying the British robustness of 
that fine young chap who is so misguided as to be a 
lawyer. 

" Ah, why do I object to lawyers ? Tolstoy ! — I used 
to say — or, at the risk of advanced intellects not recog- 
nising one's allusions, one could go farther back. But 
that is, in the end, all gammon. Every real conviction 
springs from personal experience. I hate the law be- 
cause it interfered with me. I'm not aware of any better 
reason. So I'm going on without it — unless somebody 
tries to steal my forty thousand, of course. Ambrose, 
thou art a humbug — or, more precisely, thou canst not 
avoid being a human individual ! " 

Lord Lynborough completed the entry in his diary — 
he was tolerably well aware that he might just as well 
not have written it — and cast his eyes towards the 
window of the library. The stars were bright ; a 
crescent moon decorated, without illuminating, the sky. 
The regular recurrent beat of the sea on the shore, 
traversing the interval in night's silence, struck on his 
ear. "If God knew Time, that might fae His clock," 




HELENA'S PATH 41 

said he. " Listen to its inexorable, peaceable, gentle, 
formidable stroke I " 

His sleep that night was short and broken. A fitful 
excitement was on his spirit : the glory of the summer 
morning wooed his restlessness. He would take his 
swim alone, and early. At six o'clock he slipped out 
of the house and made for Beach Path. The fortified 
gate was too strong for his unaided efforts. Roger 
Wilbraham had told him that, if the way were impeded, 
he had a right to " deviate." He deviated now, lightly 
vaulting over the four-foot-high stone wall. None was 
there to hinder him, and, with emotions appropriate to 
the occasion, he passed Nab Grange and gained the 
beach. When once he was in the water, the emotions 
went away. 

They were to return — or, at any rate, to be succeeded 
by their brethren. After he had dressed, he sat down 
aad smoked a cigarette as he regarded the smiling sea. 
This situation was so agreeable that he prolonged it for 
full half-an-hour ; then a sudden longing for Coltson's 
coffee came over him. He jumped up briskly and made 
for the Grange gate. 

He had left it open — it was shut now. None had 
been nigh when he passed through. Now a young 
woman in a white frock leant her elbows comfortably 
on its top rail and rested her pretty chin upon her 
hands. Lady Norah's blue eyes looked at him serenely 
from beneath black lashes of noticeable length — at any- 
rate Lynborough noticed their length. 

Lynborough walked up to the gate. With one hand 
he removed his hat, with the other he laid a tentative 
hand on the latch. Norah did not move or even smile. 

•* I beg your pardon, madam," said Lynborough, " but 
if it does not incommode you, would you have the great 
kindness to permit me to open the gate ? " 

" Oh, I'm sorry ; but this is a private path leading to 
Nab Grange. I suppose you're a stranger in these 
parts?" 



42 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

** My name is Lynborough. I live at Scarsmoor 
there." 

" Are you Lord Lynborough ? " Norah sounded ex- 
ceedingly interested. " The Lord Lynborough ? " 

"There's only one, so far as Tm aware," the owner of 
the title answered. 

" I mean the one who has done all those — those — 
well, those funny things ? " 

** I rejoice if the recital of them has caused you any 
amusement And now, if you will permit me " 

" Oh, but I can't ! Helena would never forgive me. 
Tm a friend of hers, you know — of the Marchesa di San 
Servolo. Really you can't come through here." 

" Do you think you can stop me ? " 

" There isn't room for you to get over as long as I 
stand here — and the wall's too high to climb, isn't it ? " 

Lynborough studied the wall ; it was twice the height 
of the wall on the other side ; it might be possible to 
scale, but difficult and laborious ; nor would he look 
imposing while struggling at the feat. 

*' You'll have to go round by the road," remarked 
Norah, breaking into a smile. 

Lynborough was enjoying the conversation just as 
much as she was — but he wanted two things ; one was 
victory, the other coffee. 

" Can't I persuade you to move ? " he said imploringly. 
" I really don't want to have to resort to more startling 



measures." 



" You surely wouldn't use force against a girl, Lord 
Lynborough I " 

" I said startling measures — not violent ones," he 
reminded her. " Are your nerves good ? " 

" Excellent, thank you." 

" You mean to stand where you are ? " 

"Yes — till you've gone away." Now she laughed 
openly at him. Lynborough delighted in the merry 
sound and the flash of her white teeth. 

"It's a splendid morning, isn't it?" he asked. "I 



HELENA'S PATH 43 

should think you stand about five feet five, don't you ? 
By the way, whom have I the pleasure of conversing 
with?" 

" My name is Norah Mountliffey." 

" Ah, I knew your father very well." He drew back 
a few steps. ** So you must excuse an old family friend 
for telling you that you make a charming picture at 

that gate. If I had a camera Just as you are, 

please ! " He held up his hand, as though to pose her. 

"Am I quite right?" she asked, humouring the joke, 
with her merry mischievous eyes set on Lynborough's 
face as she leant over the top of the gate. 

" Quite right Now, please ! Don't move I " 

"Oh, I've no intention of moving," laughed Norah 
mockingly. 

She kept her word ; perhaps she was too surprised to 
do anything else. For Lynborough, clapping his hat on 
firmly, with a dart and a spring flew over her head. 

Then she wheeled round — to see him standing two 
yards from her, his hat in his hand again, bowing 
apologetically. 

" Forgive me for getting between you and the sunshine 
for a moment," he said. ** But I thought I could still do 
five feet five ; and you weren't standing upright either. 
I've done within an inch of six feet, you know. And 
now I'm afraid I must reluctantly ask you to excuse 
me. I thank you for the pleasure of this conversation." 
He bowed, put on his hat, turned, and began to walk 
away along Beach Path. 

" You got the better of me that time, but you've not 
done with me yet," she cried, starting after him. 

He turned and looked over his shoulder : save for his 
eyes his face was quite grave. He quickened his pace 
to a very rapid walk. Norah found that she must run, 
or fall behind. She began to run. Again that gravely 
derisory face turned upon her. She blushed, and fell 
suddenly to wondering whether in running she looked 
absurd. She fell to a walk. Lynborough seemed to 




again, he abated his 



44 

know. Without looking 
pace. 

" Oh, 1 can't catch you if you won't stop ! " she cried. 

"My friend and secretary, Roger VViibraham, tells 
me that I have no right to stop," Lyn borough explained, 
looking round again, but not standing still. " 1 have 
only the right to pass and repass. I'm repassing now. 
He's a barrister, and he says that's the law. i daresay 
it is — but I regret that it prevents me from obliging 
you. Lady Norah." 

"Well, I'm not going to make a fool of myself by 
running after you," said Norah crossly. 

Lynborough walked slowly on ; Norah followed ; 
they reached the turn of the path towards the Grange 
hall door. They reached it— and passed it — both of 
them. Lynborough turned once more — with a sur- 
prised lift of his brows. 

"At least 1 can see you safe off the premises I" 
laughed Norah, and with a quick dart forward she 
reduced the distance between them to half-a-yard. 
Lynborough seemed to have no objection ; proximity 
made conversation easier ; he moved slowly on. 

Norah seemed defeated — but suddenly she saw her 
chance, and hailed it with a cry. The Marchesa's bailiff 
— John Goodenough — was approaching the path from 
the house situated at the south-west comer of the 
meadow. Her cry of his name caught his attention — - 
as well as Lynborough's. The latter walked a little 
quicker. John Goodenough hurried up. Lynborough 
walked steadily on. 

"Stop him, John!" cried Norah, her eyes sparkling 
with new excitement. "You know her Excellency's 
orders? This is Lord Lynborough!" 

"His lordship I Ay. it is. I beg your pardon, my 
lord, but — I'm very sorry to interfere with your lordship, 
but " 

"You're in my way, Goodenough." For John had 
got across his path, and barred progress. " Of course I 



HELENA'S PATH 45 

must stand still if you impede my steps, but I do it 
under protest. I only want to repass." 

" You can't come this way, my lord. I'm sorry, but 
it's her Excellency's strict orders. You must go back, 
my lord." 

" I am going back— or I was till you stopped me." 

" Back to where you came from, my lord." 

^ I came from Scarsmoor and I'm going back there, 
Goodenough." 

" Where you came from last, my lord." 

** No, no, Goodenough. At all events, her Excellency 
has no right to drive me into the sea." Lynborough s 
tone was plaintively expostulatory. 

" Then if you won't go back, my lord, here we stay ! " 
said John, bewildered but faithfully obstinate. 

" Just your tactics ! " Lynborough observed to Norah, 
a keen spectator of the scene. " But I'm not so patient 
of them from Goodenough." 

" I don't know that you were very patient with 
me. 

" Groodenough, if you use sufficient force I shall, of 
course, be prevented from continuing on my way. No- 
thing short of that, however, will stop me. And pray 
take care that the force is sufficient — neither more nor 
less than sufficient, Goodenough." 

"I don't want to use no violence to your lordship. 
Well, now, if I lay my hand on your lordship's shoulder, 
will that do to satisfy your lordship?" 

" I don't know until you try it" 

John's face brightened. *' I reckon that's the way out 
I reckon that's law, my lord. I puts my hand on your 
lordship's shoulder like that " 

He suited the action to the word. In an instant 
Lynborough's long lithe arms were round him, Lyn- 
borough's supple lean leg twisted about his. Gently, as 
though he had been a little baby, Lynborough laid the 
sturdy fellow on the grass. 

For all she could do, Norah MountlifTey cried 



46 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" Bravo I " and clapped her hands. Goodenough sat up, 
scratched his head, and laughed feebly. 

" Force not quite sufficient, Goodenough," cried Lyn- 
borough gaily. " Now I repass ! " 

He lifted his hat to Norah, then waved his hand. In 
her open impulsive way she kissed hers back to him as 
he turned away. 

By one of those accidents peculiar to tragedy, the 
Marchesa's maid, performing her toilet at an upper 
window, saw this nefarious and traitorous deed ! 

" Swimming — ^jumping — wrestling I A good morn- 
ing's exercise! And all before those lazy chaps, Roger 
and Cromlech, are out of bed ! " 

So saying, Lord Lynborough vaulted the wall s^ain 
in high good humour. 



CHAPTER VH 
ANOTHER wedge! 



4 



Deprived of their leader's inspiration, the other two 
representatives of Scarsmoor did not brave the Passage 
Perilous to the sea that morning. Lynborough was well 
content to forgo further aggression for the moment. 
His words declared his satisfaction — 

" I have driven a wedge — another wedge — into the 
Marchesa's phalanx. Yes, I think I may say a second 
wedge. Disaffection has made its entry into Nab 
Grange, Cromlech. The process of isolation has begun. 
Perhaps after lunch we will resume operations." 

But fortune was to give him an opportunity even 
before lunch. It appeared that Stabb had sniffed out 
the existence of two old brasses in Fillby Church ; he 
was determined to inspect them at the earliest possible 
moment. Lynborough courteously offered to acc onfe' 
pany him, and they set out together about el4l ^ 
o'clock. 




HELENA'S PATH 47 

No incident marked their way. Lynborough rang up 
the parish clerk at his house, presented Stabb to that 
important functionary, and bespoke for him every con- 
sideration. Then he leant against the outside of the 
churchyard wall, peacefully smoking a cigarette. 

On the opposite side of the village street stood the 
Lynborough Arms. The inn was kept by a very 
superior man, who had retired to this comparative 
leisure after some years of service as butler with Lyn- 
borough's father. This excellent person, perceiving 
Lynborough, crossed the road and invited him to 
partake of a glass of ale in memory of old days. 
Readily acquiescing, Lynborough crossed the road, sat 
down with the landlord on a bench by the porch, and 
began to discuss local affairs over the beer. 

"I suppose you haven't kept up your cricket since 
you've been in foreign parts, my lord ? " asked Dawson, 
the landlord, after some conversation which need not 
occupy this narrative. "We're playing a team from 
Easthorpe to-morrow, and we're very short" 

"Haven't played for nearly fifteen years, Dawson. 
But I tell you what — I daresay my friend Mr Wilbra- 
ham will play. Mr Stabb's no use." 

" Every one helps," said Dawson. " We've got two of 
the gentlemen from the Grange — Mr Stillford, a good 
bat, and Captain Irons, who can bowl a bit— or so John 
Goodenough tells me." 

Lynborough's eyes had grown alert. "Well, I used 
to bowl a bit, too. If you're really hard up for a man, 
Dawson — ^really at a loss, you know — I'll play. It'll be 
better than going into the field short, won't it?" 

Dawson was profuse in his thanks. Lynborough 
listened patiently. 

" I tell you what I should like to do, Dawson," he 
said. " I should like to stand the lunch." 

It was the turn of Dawson's eyes to grow alert. 
They did. Dawson supplied the lunch. The club's 
finances were slender, and its ideas correspondingly 



48 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

modest. But if Lord Lynborough "stood" the 
lunch ! 

"And to do it really well," added that nobleman. 
" A sort of little feast to celebrate my homecoming. 
The two teams — and perhaps a dozen places for friends 
— ladies, the Vicar, and so on, eh, Dawson ? Do you 
see the idea ? " 

Dawson saw the idea much more clearly than he 
saw most ideas. Almost corporeally he beheld the 
groaning board. 

" On such an occasion, Dawson, we shouldn't quarrel 
about figures." 

"Your lordship's always most liberal," Dawson 
acknowledged in tones which showed some trace of 
emotion. 

"Put the matter in hand at once. But look here, 
I don't want it talked about Just tell the secre- 
tary of the club — that's enough. Keep the tent empty 
till the moment comes. Then display your triumph! 
It'll be a pleasant little surprise for everybody, won't 
it?" 

Dawson thought it would ; at any rate it was one for 
him. 

At this instant an elderly lady of demure appearance 
was observed to walk up to the lych-gate and enter the 
churchyard. Lynborough inquired of his companion 
who she was. 

" That's Miss Gilletson from the Grange, my lord — the 
Marchesa's companion." 

" Is it ? " said Lynborough softly. " Oh, is it indeed ? " 
He rose from his seat. " Good-bye, Dawson. Mind — 
a dead secret, and a rattling good lunch i " 

" I'll attend to it, my lord," Dawson assured him with 
the utmost cheerfulness. Never had Dawson invested 
a glass of beer to better profit I 

Lynborough threw away his cigar and entered the 
sacred precincts. His brain was very busy. " Another 
wedge i " he was saying to himself. " Another wedge 1 " 



HELENA'S PATH 49 

The lady had gone into the church. Lynborough 
went in too. He came first on Stabb — on his hands 
and knees, examining one of the old brasses and making 
copious notes in a pocket-book. 

" Have you seen a lady come in, Cromlech ? " asked 
Lord Lynborough. 

"No, I haven't," said Cromlech, now producing a 
yard measure and proceeding to ascertain the dimen- 
sions of the brass. 

"You wouldn't, if it were Venus herself," replied 
Lynborough pleasantly. " Well, I must look for her on 
my own account." 

He found her in the neighbourhood of his family 
monuments which, with his family pew, crowded the 
little chancel of the church. She was not employed in 
devotions, but was arranging some flowers in a vase — 
doubtless a pious oflfering. Somewhat at a loss how to 
open the conversation, Lynborough dropped his hat — 
or rather gave it a dexterous jerk, so that it fell at the 
lady's feet Miss Gilletson started violently, and Lord 
Lynborough humbly apologised. Thence he glided into 
conversation, first about the flowers, then about the 
tombs. On the latter subject he was exceedingly 
interesting and informing. 

"Dear, dear! Married the Duke of Dexminster's 
daughter, did he?" said Miss Gilletson, considerably 
thrilled. " She's not buried here, is she ? " 

"No, she's not," said Lynborough, suppressing the 
fact that the lady had run away after six months of 
married life. " And my own father's not buried here, 
either; he chose my mother's family place in Devon- 
shire. I thought it rather a pity." 

" Your own father ? " Miss Gilletson gasped. 

" Oh, I forgot you didn't know me," he said, laughing. 
" I'm Lord Lynlx)rough, you know. That's how I come 
to be so well up in all this. And I tell you what — I 
should like to show you some of our Scarsmoor roses 
on your way home." 



50 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"Oh, but if you're Lord Lynborough, I — I really 
couldn't " 

" Who's to know anything about it, unless you choose, 
Miss Gilietson?" he asked with his ingratiating smile 
and his merry twinkle. "There's nothing so pleasant 
as a secret shared with a lady 1 " 

It was a long time since a handsome man had shared 
a secret with Miss Gilietson. Who knows, indeed, 
whether such a thing had ever happened ? Or whether 
Miss Gilietson had once just dreamed that some day it 
might — and had gone on dreaming for long, long days, 
till even the dream had slowly and sadly faded away? 
For sometimes it does happen like that Lynborough 
meant nothing — but no possible effort (supposing he 
made it) could enable him to look as if he meant 
nothing. One thing at least he did mean — to make 
himself very pleasant to Miss Gilietson. 

Interested knave! It is impossible to avoid that 
reflection. Yet let ladies in their turn ask themselves 
if they are over-scrupulous in their treatment of one 
man when their affections are set upon another. 

He showed Miss Gilietson all the family tombs. He 
escorted her from the church, Under renewed vows 
of secrecy he induced her to enter Scarsmoor. Once 
in the gardens, the good lady was lost. They had no 
such roses at Nab Grange! Lynborough insisted on 
sending an enormous bouquet to the Vicar's wife in 
Miss Gilletson's name — and Miss Gilietson grew merry 
as she pictured the mystification of the Vicar's wife. 
For Miss Gilietson herself he superintended the selection 
of a nosegay of the choicest blooms ; they laughed 
again together when she hid them in a large bag she 
carried — destined for the tea and tobacco which repre- 
sented her little charities. Then — after pausing for one 
private word in his gardener's ear, which caused a boy 
to be sent off post-haste to the stables — he led her to 
the road, and in vain implored her to honour his house 
by setting foot in it. There the fear of the Marchesa 



HELEN A*S PATH 51 

or (it is pleasanter to think) some revival of the sense 
of youth, bred by Lynborough's deferential courtliness, 
prevailed. They came together through his lodge 
gates ; and Miss Gilleston's face suddenly fell. 

" That wretched gate ! " she cried. " It's locked — and 
I haven't got the key." 

" No more have I, I'm sorry to say," said Lynborough. 
He, on his part, had forgotten nothing. 

** It's nearly two miles round by the road — and so hot 
and dusty I — Really Helena does cut off her nose to 
spite her face I " Though, in truth, it appeared rather 
to be Miss Gilletson's nose the Marchesa had cut off. 

A commiserating gravity sat on Lord Lynborough's 
attentive countenance. 

**If I were younger, I'd climb that wall," declared 
Miss Gilletson. " A^ it is — well, but for your lovely 
flowers, I'd better have gone the other way after all." 

"I don't want you to feel that," said he, almost 
tenderly. 

" I must walk ! " 

" Oh no, you needn't," said Lynborough. 

As he spoke, there issued from the gates behind them 
a luxurious victoria, drawn by two admirable horses. 
It came to a stand by Lynborough, the coachman 
touching his hat, the footman leaping to the ground. 

*'Just take Miss Gilletson to the Grange, Williams. 
Stop a little way short of the house. She wants to walk 
ilirough the garden." 

" Very good, my lord." 

" Put up the hood, Charles. The sun's very hot for 
Miss Gilletson." 

" Yes, my lord." 

" Nobody'll see you if you get out a hundred yards 
from the door — and it's really better than tramping the 
road on a day like this. Of course, if Beach Path 

were open ! " He shrugged his shoulders ever so 

slightly. 

Fear of the Marchesa struggled in Miss Gilletson's 



51 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE ^ 

heart with the horror of the hot and tiring walk — with 
the seduction of the shady, softly rolling, speedy 
carriage. 

" If I met Helena ! " she whispered ; and the whisper 
was an admission of reciprocal confidence. 

" It's the chance of that against the certainty of the 
tramp 1 " 

" She didn't come down to breakfast this morning " 

"Ah. didn't she?" Lynborough made a note for his 
Intelligence Department. 

" Perhaps she isn't up yet! I — I think I'll taki; the 
risk." 

Lynborough assisted her into the carriage. 

" I hope we shall meet again," he said, with no small 
empressemcnt. 

" I'm afraid not," answered Miss Gilletson dolefully. 
" You see, Helena " 

" Yes, yes ; but ladies have their moods. Anyhow 
you won't think too hardly of me, will you? I'm not 
altogether an ogre," 

There was a pretty faint blush on Miss GiUetson's 
cheek as she gave him her hand. " An ogre ! No, dear 
Lord Lynborough," she murmured. 

" A wedge ! " said Lynborough, as he watched her 
drive away. 

He was triumphant with what he had achieved — he 
was full of hope for what he had planned. If he 
reckoned right, the loyalty of the ladies at Nab Grange 
to the mistress thereof was tottering, if it had not fallen. 
His relations with the men awaited the result of the 
cricket match. Yet neither his triumph nor his hope 
could in the nature of the case exist without an inter- 
mixture of remorse. He hurt — or tried to hurt — what 
he would please — and hoped to please. His mood was 
mixed, and his smile not altogether mirthful as he stood 
looking at the fast-receding carriage. 

Then suddenly, for the first time, he saw his enemy. 
Distantly — afar off! Yet without a doubt it was she. 



HELENA'S PATH 53 

As he turned and cast his eyes over the forbidden path 
— the path whose seclusion he had violated, bold in his 
right — a white figure came to the sunk fence and stood 
tbxn, looking not towards where he stood, but up to 
his castle on the hill. Lynborough edged near to the 
barricaded gate — a new padlock and new chevaux-<U- 
frist of prickly branches guarded it. The latter, high 
as his head, screened him completely ; he peered through 
the interstices in absolute security. 

The white iigure stood on the little bridge which led 
over the sunk fence into the meadow. He could see 
neither feature nor colour ; only the slender shape 
caught and chained his eye. Tall she was, and slender, 
as his mocking forecast had prophesied. More than 
that he could not see. 

Well, he did see one more thing. This beautiful 
shape, after a few minutes of what must be presumed 
to be meditation, raised tts arm and shook its fist with 
decision at Scarsmoor Castle ; then it turned and walked 
straight back to the Grange. 

There was no sort of possibility of mistaking the 
nature or the meaning of the gesture. 

It had the result of stifling Lynborough's softer mood, 
of revivii^ his pugnacity. " She must do more than 
that, if sm's to win 1 " said he. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE UARCHESA MOVES 

After her demonstration against Scarsmoor Castle, 
the Marchesa went in to lunch. But there were objects 
of her wrath nearer home also. She received Norah's 
salute — they had not met before, that morning — with 
icy coldness. 

" I'm better, thank you," she said, " but you must be 
feeling tired—having been up 30 very early in the 



^'54 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



morning! And you — Violet — have you been ow 
Scarsmoor again?" 

Violet had heard from Norah all about the latter's 
morning adventure. They exchanged uneasy glances. 
Yet they were prepared to back one another up. The 
men looked more frightened ; men are frightened when 
women quarrel. 

"One of you," continued the Marchesa accusingly, 
"pursues Lord Lynborough to his own threshold — the 
other flirts with him in my own meadow I Rather 
peculiar signs of friendship for me under the present 
circumstances — don't you think so, Colonel Wenman ? " 

The Colonel thought so — though he would have 
greatly preferred to be at liberty to entertain — or at 
least to express — no opinion on so thorny a point 

" Flirt with him ? What do you mean ? " But 
Norah's protest lacked the ring of honest indignation. 

" Kissing one's hand to a mere stranger " 

" How do you know that? You were in bed." 

"Carlotta saw you from her window. You don't 
deny it ? " 

" No, I don't," said Norah, perceiving the uselessness 
of such a course. " In fact, I glory in it. I had a 
splendid time with Lord Lynborough. Oh, I did try 
to keep him out for you — but he jumped over my 
head," 

Sensation among the gentlemen ! Increased scorn 
on the Marchesa's face ! 

"And when 1 got John Goodenough to help me, he 
just laid John down on the grass as — as I lay that 
spoon on the tablet He's splendid, Helena I " 

" He seems a good sort of chap," said Irons thought- 
fully. ■ 

The Marchesa looked at Wenman. 

" Nothing to be said for the fellow, nothing at? 
declared the Colonel hastily. 

"Thank you, Colonel Wenman. I'm glad 1 have? 
friend left anyhow. Oh, besides you, Mr Stillford, of 




HELENA'S PATH 55 

coarse. Oh, and you, dear old Jennie, of course. You 
wouldn't forsake me, would you } " 

The tone of affection was calculated to gratify Miss 
Gilletson. But against it had to be set the curious 
and amused gaze of Norah and Violet. Seen by these 
two ladies in the act of descending from a stylish 

and corooeted) victoria in the drive of Nab Grange, 
is9 Gilletson had, pardonably perhaps, broken down 
rather severely in cross-examination. She had been 
so very proud of the roses — so very full of Lord 
Lynborot^'s graces 1 She was conscious now that the 
pair held her in their hands and were demanding 
coarage from her. 

"Forsake you, dearest Helena? Of course not! 
There's no question of that with any of us." 

"Yea — there is — with those of you who make friends 
with that wretch at Scarsmoorl" 

" Really, Helena, you shouldn't be so — so vehement. 
I'm not sure ifs ladylike. It's absurd to call Lord 
Lynborough a wretch." The pale faint flush again 
adorned her fading cheeks. " I never met a man more 
thoroughly a gentleman." 

" You never met " b^an the Marchesa in petri- 
fied tones. "Then you have met ?" Again her 

words died away. 

Miss Gilletson took her courage in both hands. 

" Circumstances threw us together. I behaved as a 
lady does under such circumstances, Helena. And 
Lord Lynborough was, under the circumstances, most 
charming, courteous, and considerate." She gathered 
more courage as she proceeded. "And, really, it's 
highly inconvenient having that gate locked, Helena. 
I nacf to come all the way round by the road." 

" I'm sorry if you find yourself fatigued," said the 
Marchesa with formal civility. 

" I'm not fatigued, thank you, Helena. I should have 
been terribly— but for Lord Lynborough's kindness in 
tending me borne in his carri^e." 



56 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



A pause followed. Then Norah and Violet began to 
giggle. 

"It was so funny this morning! " said Norah — and 
boldly launched on a full story of her adventure. She 
held the attention of the table. The Marchesa sat in 
gloomy silence. Violet chimed in with more remini- 
scences of her visit to Scarsmoor; Miss Gtiletson 
contributed new items, including that matter of the 
roses. Norah ended triumphantly with a eulogy on 
Lynborough's extraordinary physical powers. Captain 
Irons listened with concealed interest. Even Colonel 
Wenman ventured to opine that the enemy was worth 
fighting. Stillford imitated his hostess's silence, but he 
was watching her closely. Would her courage — or her 
obstinacy — break down under these assaults, this luke- 
warmness, these desertions? In his heart, fearful of 
that lawsuit, he hoped so. 

" 1 shall prosecute htm for assaulting Goodenough," 
the Marchesa announced. 

" Goodenough touched him first I " cried Norah. 

"That doesn't raatter.since I'm in the right. He had 
no business to be there. That's the law, isn't it, Mr Still- 
ford 7 Wilt he be sent to prison or only heavily fined ? " 

" Well — er — I'm rather afraid — neither. Marchesa. 
You see, he'll plead his right, and the Bench would refer 
us to our civil remedy and dismiss the summons. At 
least, that's my opinion." 

"Of course that's right," pronounced Norah io, 
authoritative tone. 

" If that's the English law," observed the Marcl 
rising from the table, " I greatly regret that I ever 
settled in England." 

" What are you going to do this afternoon, Helena ? 
Going to play tennis^^r croquet ? " 

" I'm going for a walk, thank you, Violet" She 
paused for a moment and then added, " By myself." 

" Oh, mayn't I have the privilegf 
Colonel. 



At 

-J 



— ? " began te| 



HELENA^S PATH 57 

"Not to-day, thank you, Colonel Wenman. I — I 
have a great deal to think about. We shall meet again 
at tea — unless you're all going to tea at Scarsmoor 
Castle ! " With this Parthian shot she left them. 

She had indeed much to think of — and her reflections 
were not cast in a cheerful mould. She had underrated 
her enemy. It had seemed sufficient to lock the gate 
and to forbid Lynborough's entry. These easy measures 
had appeared to leave him no resource save blank 
violence : in that confidence she had sat still and done 
nothing. He had been at work — not by blank violence, 
but by cunning devices and subtle machinations. He 
had made a base use of his personal fascinations, of his 
athletic gifts, even of his lordly domain, his garden of 
roses, and his carriage. She perceived his strategy ; she 
saw now how he had driven in his wedges. Her ladies 
had already gone over to his side ; even her men were 
shaken. Stillford had always been lukewarm ; Irons 
was fluttering round Lynborough's flame; Wenman 
might still be hers — but an isolation mitigated only by 
Colonel Wenman seemed an isolation not mitigated in 
the least When she had looked forward to a fight, it 
had not been to such a fight as this. An enthusiastic, 
hilarious, united Nab Grange was to have hurled laugh- 
ing defiance at Scarsmoor Castle. Now more than half 
Nab Grange laughed — ^but its laughter was not at the 
Castle ; its laughter, its pitying amusement, was directed 
at her; Lynborough's triumphant campaign drew all 
admiration. He had told Stillford that he would harry 
her ; he was harrying her to his heart's content — and to 
a very soreness in hers. 

For the path — ^hateful Beach Path which her feet 
at this moment trod— -became now no more than an 
occasion for battle, a symbol of strife. The greater 
issue stood out. It was that this man had peremptorily 
challenged her to a fight — and was beating her ! And 
he won his victory, not by male violence in spite of 
male stupidity, but by just the arts and the cunning 



58 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



which should have been her own weapons. To her he 
left the blunt, the inept, the stupid and violent methods. 
He chose the more refined, and wielded them like a 
master. It was a position to which the Marchesa's 
experience had not accustomed her — one to which her 
spirit was by no means attuned. 

What was his end — that end whose approach seemed 
even now clearly indicated ? It was to convict her at 
once of cowardice and of pig-headedness, to exhibit 
her as afraid to bring him to book by law, and yet 
too churlish to cede him his rights. He would get 
all her friends to think that about her. Then she 
would be left alone — to fight a lost battle all atone. 

Was he right in his charge? Did it truly describe 
her conduct? For any truth there might be in it, she 
declared that he was himself to blame. He had forced 
the fight on her by his audacious demand for instant 
surrender ; he had given her no fair time for considera- 
tion, no opportunity for a dignified retreat. He had 
offered her no choice save between ignominy and de- 
fiance. If she chose defiance, his rather than hers was 
the blame. 

Suddenly — across these dismal broodtngs — there 
shot a new idea. Fas est et ab kosle doceri ; she did 
not put it in Latin, but it came to the same thing— 
Couldn't she pay Lynborough back in his own com? 
She had her resources — perhaps she had been letting 
them tie idle ! Lord Lynborough did not live alone 
at Scarsmoor. If there were women open to his wiles 
at the Grange, were there no men open to hers at 
Scarsmoor? The idea was illuminating; she accorded 
it place in her thoughts. 

She was just by the gate. She took out her key, 
opened the padlock, closed the gate behind her, but 



did not lock it, walked on to the road, and • 
the territory of Scarsmoor. 

Fate helps those who help themselves : 
courage of brain and heart had its reward. 



.eyed 



HELENA'S PATH 59 

not been there above a minute when Rc^er Wllbraham 
came out from the Scarsmoor gates. 

LynboTOUgh had, he considered, done enough for 
one day. He was awaiting the results of to-morrow's 
manceuvres anent the cricket match. But he amused 
himself after lunch by proffering to Roger a wager that 
be would not succeed in traversing Beach Path from 
end to end, and back again, alone, by his own unassisted 
efforts, and without being driven to ignominious flight 
Without a moment's hesitation Roger accepted. " I 
shall just wait till the coast's clear," he said. 

" Ah, but they'll see you from the windows ! They 
will be on the lookout," Lynborough retorted. 

The Marchesa had strolled a little way down the 
road. She was walking back towards the gate when 
R(^er first came in sight. He did not see her until 
after he had reached the gate. There he stood a 
moment, considering at what point to attack it — for 
the barricade was formidable. He came to the same 
conclusion as Lynborough had reached earlier in the 
day. "Oh, I'll jump the wall," he said. 

" The gate isn't locked," remarked a charming voice 
just behind him. 

He turned round with a start and saw — he had no 
doubt whom he saw. The Marchesa's tall slender 
figure stood before him — all in white, crowned by a 
lai|^, yet simple, white hat ; her pale olive cheeks were 
Unged with underlying red (the flush of which Lyn- 
borough had dreamed I) ; her dark eyes rested on the 
young man with a kindly languid interest ; her very 
red lips showed no smile, yet seemed to have one in 
ready ambush. Roger was overcome ; he blushed and 
stood silent before the vision. 

" I expect you're going to bathe ? Of course this 
Is the shortest way, and I shall be so glad if you'll use 
it I'm going to the Grange myself, so I can put you 
on your way." 

Roger was honest. " I— I'm staying at the Castle." 



6o 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



" rtl tell somebody to be on the lookout a 
the gate for you when you come back," said sh( 

If Norah was no match for Lynborough, Roger was 
none for the Marchesa's practised art. 

"You're — you're awfully kind. I — I shall be de- 
lighted, of course." 

The Marchesa passed through the gate. Roger 
followed. She handed him the key. 

" Will you please lock the padlock i" It's not — safe — 
to leave the gate open." 

Her smile had come into the open — it was on the 
red lips nowl For all his agitation Roger was not 
blind to its meaning. His hand was to lock the gate 
against his friend and chief! I)ut the smile and the 
eyes commanded. He obeyed. 

It was the first really satisfactory moment which the 
contest had brought to the Marchesa — some small 
instalment of consolation for the treason of her friends, 

Roger had been honestly in love once with a guileless 
maiden — who had promptly and quite unguilefuUy 
refused him ; his experience did not at all fit him to 
cope with the Marchesa. She, of course, was merciless : 
was he not of the hated house? As an individual, how- 
ever, he appeared to be comely and agreeable. 

They walked on side by side — not very quickly. The 
Marchesa's eyes were now downcast. Roger was able 
to steal a glance at her profile ; he could compare it to 
nothing less than a Roman Empress on an ancient 
silver coin. 

" 1 suppose you've been taught to think me a very 
rude and unneighbourly person, haven't you, Mr Wil- 
braham ? At least, I suppose you're Mr Wilbraham? 
You don't look old enough to be that learned Mr Stabb 
the Vicar told me about. Though he said Mr Stabb 
was absolutely delightful — how I should love to know 
him, if only ! " She broke off, sighing deeply. 

"Yes, my name's Wilbraham. I'm Lynborough's 
secretary. But — er — I don't think anything of Uiat 



.j«k 



HELEN A»S PATH 6i 

sort about you. And — and I've never heard Lyn- 
borough say anything — er — unkind." 

"Oh, Lord Lynboroughl" She gave a charming 
little shrug, accompanied with what Rt^er, from his 
novel-reading, conceived to be a moue. 

"Of course I — I know that you — you think you're 
right," he stammered. 

She stopped on the path. "Yes, I do think I'm 
ri^t, Mr Wilbraham. But that's not it If it were 
merely a question of right, it would be unneighbourly 
to insist I'm not hurt by Lord Lynborough's using 
this path. But I'm hurt by Lord Lynborough's dis- 
courtesy. In my country women are treated with 
respect — even sometimes (she gave a bitter little laugh) 
with deference. That doesn't seem to occur to Lord 
Lyn borough." 

" Well, you know " 

" Oh, I can't let you say a word against him, whatever 
you may be obliged to think. In your position — as his 
friend — that would be disloyal ; and the one thing I 
dislike is disloyalty. Only I was anxious " — she turned 
and faced him — " that you should understand my 
position — and that Mr Stabb should too. I shall he 
very glad if you and Mr Stabb will use the path when- 
ever you like. If the gate's locked you can manage 
the wall I" 

" I'm — I'm most awfully obliged to you — er — 
Marchesa — but you see " 

" No more need be said about that, Mr Wilbraham. 
You're heartily welcome. Lord Lynborough would 
have been heartily welcome too, if he would have 
approached me properly. I was open to discussion. I 
received orders. I don't take orders — not even from 
Lord Lynborough." 

She looked splendid — so Roger thought The under- 
lying red dyed the olive to a brighter hue ; her eyes 
were very proud ; the red lips shut decisively. Just like 
a Roman Empress 1 Then her face underwent a rapid 



62 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



transformation ; the lips parted, the eyes laughed, the 
cheeks faded to hues less stormy, yet not less beautiful. 
(These are recorded as Mr Wilbraham's impressions.) 
Lightly she laid the tips of her fingers on his arm for 
just a moment. 

"There — don't let's talk any more about disagree- 
able things," she said. " It's too beautiful an afternoon. 
Can you spare just five minutes? The strawberries are 
splendid t I want some — and it's so hot to pick them 
for oneself I" 

Roger paused, twisting the towel round his neck. 

"Only five minute.s!" pleaded — yes, pleaded — the 
beautiful Marchesa. "Then you can go and have your 
swim in peace." 

It was a question whether poor Roger was to do any- 
thing more in peace that day — but he went and pi( ' 
the strawberries. 



CHAPTER IX 



LYNBOROUGH DROPS A CATCH 



•icke^ 



"Something has happened!" (So Lynborough re- 
cords the same evening.) " I don't know precisely 
what — but I think that the enemy is at last in motion. 
I'm glad. I was being too successful. I had begun to 
laugh at her — and that only, 1 prefer the admixture 
of another element of emotion. All that ostensibly 
appears is that I have lost five shillings to Roger. 
'You did it?' I asked. 'Certainly,' said Roger. 'I 

went at my ease and came back at my case, and ,' 

I interrupted, ' Nobody stopped you?' 'Nobody made 
any objection,' said Roger. ' You took your time,' says 
I. 'You were away three hours!' 'The water was 
very pleasant this afternoon,' says Roger. Hum! I 
hand over my two half-crowns, which Roger pockets 
with a most peculiar sort of smile. There that incident 



HELENA'S PATH 63 

appears to end — with a comment from me that the 
Marchesa's garrison is not very alert, Another smile — 
not less peculiar — from Roger I Hum / 

** Then Cromlech I I trust Cromlech as myself— that 
iSy as far as I can see him. He has no secrets from me — 
that I know of; I have none from him — ^which would 
be at all likely to interest him. Yet, soon after Roger's 
return, Cromlech goes out I And they had been alone 
together for some minutes, as I happen to have observed. 
Cromlech is away an hour and a half 1 If I were not a 
man of honour, I would have trained the telescope on 
to him. I refrained. Where was Cromlech? At the 
church, he told me. I accept his word — but the church 
has had a curious effect upon him. Sometimes he is 
silent, sulky, reflective, embarrassed — constantly rubbing 
the place where his hair ought to be — not altogether too 
civil to me either. Anon, sits with a fat happy smile 
on his facet Has he found a new tomb? No; he'd 
tell me about a new tomb. What has happened to 
Cromlech ? 

''At first sight Violet — the insinuating one — would 
account for the phenomena. Or Nona's eyes and 
lashes ? Yet I hesitate. Woman, of course, it is, with 
both of them. Violet might make men pleased with 
themselves ; Norah could make them merry and happy. 
Yet these two are not so much pleased with them- 
selves—rather they are pleased with events; they are 
not merry — they are thoughtful. And I think they are 
resentful. I believe the hostile squadron has weighed 
anchor. In these great results, achieved so quickly, 
demanding on my part such an effort in reply, I see 
the MarchMSsa's touch I I have my own opinion as to 
what has happened to Roger and to Cromlech. Well, 
we shall see — to-morrow is the cricket match I " 

** Later, I had closed this record ; I was preparing 
to go to bed (wishing to bathe early to-morrow) when I 
found that I had forgotten to bring up my book. Coltson 
had gone to bed— or out — anyhow, away. I went down 



64 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



myself. The library door stood ajar ; I had on my 
slippers ; a light burnt still ; Cromlech and Roger were 
up. As I approached — with an involuntary noiseless- 
ness(I really couldn't be expected to think of coughing, 
in my own house and with no ladies about) — I overheard 
this remarkable, most significant, most important ecu 
versation : — 

" Cromlech : ' On my soul, there were tears in 1 
eyes ! ' 

" Roger : ' Stabb, can we as gentlemen ? ' 

"Then, as I presume, the shuffle of my slippers 
became audible. I went in ; both drank whisky-and- 
soda in a hurried fashion. I took my book from the 
table. Naught said I. Their confusion was obvious. 
1 cast on them one of my looks ; Roger blushed, Stabb 
shuffled his feet. I left them. 

" ' Tears in her eyes ! ' ' Can we as gentlemen ? ' 
" The Marchesa moves slowly, but she moves in force ! " 
It is unnecessary to pursue the diary further ; for his 
lordship — forgetful apparently of the bourne of bed, to 
which he had originally destined himself — launches into 
a variety of speculations as to the Nature of Love. 
Among other questions, he puts to himself the following 
concerning Love : — (i) Isit Inevitable? (2) Is It Agree- 
able? (3) Is it Universal? (4) Is it Wise? (5) Is it 
Remunerative ? (6) Is it Momentary ? (7) Is it Sempi- 
ternal ? (8) Is it Voluntary? (p) Is it Conditioned? 
(10) Is it Remediable? (11) Is it Religious? (There's 
a note here — "Consult Cromlech") — (12) May it be 
expected to survive the Advance of Civilisation? 
(13) Why does it exist at all ? (14) Is it Ridiculous? 

It is not to be inferred that Lord Lynborough answers 
these questions. He is, like a wise man, content to pro- 
pound them. If, however, he had answered them, it 
might have been worth while to transcribe the diary. 

"Can we as gentlemen ?" — Roger had put the 

question. It waited unanswered till Lynborough I 
taken his book and returned to record its uttersj 



ugh ha^ 



HELENA'S PATH 6$ 

together with the speculations to which that utterance 
gave rise. Stabb weighed it carefully, rubbing his bald 
head, according to the habit which his friend had anim- 
adverted upon. 

" If such a glorious creature—" cried Roger. 

'' If a thoroughly intelligent and most sympathetic 
woman " said Stabb. 

" Thinks that she has a right, why, she probably has 
one I " 

"At any rate her view is entitled to respect — to a 
courteous hearing." 

"Lynborough does appear to have been a shade — 
er " 

" Ambrose is a spoilt child, bless him I She took a 
wonderful interest in my brasses. I don't know what 
brought her to the church." 

" She waited herself to let me through that beastly 
gate again 1" 

** She drove me round herself to our gates. Wouldn't 
come through Scarsmoor I " 

They boUi sighed. They both thought of telling the 
other something — but on second thoughts refrained. 

" I suppose we'd better go to bed. Shall you bathe 
to-morrow morning?" 

" With Ambrose ? No, I sha'n't, Wilbraham." 

"No more shall I. Good-night, Stabb. You'll— 
think it over?" 

Stabb grunted inarticulately. Roger drew the blind 
aside for a moment, looked down on Nab Grange, saw 
a light in one window — and went to bed. The window 
was, in objective fact (if there be such a thing). Colonel 
Wenman's. No matter. There nothing is but thinking 
makes it so. The Colonel was sitting up, writing a 
persuasive letter to his tailor. He served emotions that 
he did not feel ; it is a not uncommon lot. 

Lynborough's passing and repassing to and from his 
bathine were uninterrupted next morning. Nab Grange 
seemed wrapped in slumber ; only Goodenough saw him. 



66 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

and Gcwdenough did not think it advisable to interrupt 
his ordinary avocations. But an air of constraint — even 
of mystery — marked both Stabb and Roger at breakfast. 
The cricl<et match was naturally the topic — though 
Stabb declared that he took little interest in it and 
should probably not be there. 

"There'll be some lunch, I suppose," said Lynborough 
carelessly. " You'd better have lunch there — it'd be dull 
for you all by yourself here. Cromlech." 

After apparent consideration Stabb conceded that he 
might take luncheon on the cricket ground ; Roger, as 
a member of the Fillby team, would, of course, do like- 
wise. 

The game was played in a large field, pleasantly 
surrounded by a belt of trees, and lying behind the 
Lynborough Arms. Besides Roger and Lynborough, 
Stillford and Irons represented Fillby. Easthorpe 
Polytechnic came in full force, save for an umpire. 
Colonel Wenman, who had walked up with his friends, 
was pressed into this honourable and responsible service, 
landlord Dawson officiating at the other end. Lyn- 
borough's second gardener, a noted fast bowler, was 
Fillby's captain ; Easthorpe was under the command of 
a curate who had played several times for his Univer- 
sity, although he had not actually achieved his "blue." 
Easthorpe won the toss and took first innings. 

The second gardener, aware of his employer's turn of 
speed, sent Lord Lynborough to field "in the country." 
That gentleman was well content ; few balls came his 
way and he was at leisure to contemplate the exterior 
of the luncheon tent — he had already inspected the 
interior thereof with sedulous care and high content- 
ment — and to speculate on the probable happenings of 
the luncheon hour. So engrossed was he that only a 
rapturous cheer, which rang out from the field and the 
spectators, apprised him of the fact that the second 
gardener had yorked the redoubtable curate with the 
first ball of his second over! Young Woodwell came 



HELENA^S PATH 67 

in ; he was known as a mighty hitter ; Lynborough was 
signalled to take his position yet deeper in the field. 
Young Woodwell immediately got to business — but 
he kept the ball low. Lynborough had, however, the 
satisfaction of saving several "boundaries." Roger, 
keeping wicket, observed his chiefs exertions with 
some satisfaction. Other wickets fell rapidly — but 
young Wood well's score rapidly mounted up. If he 
could stay in, they would make a hundred — and Fillby 
looked with just apprehension on a score like that. 
The second gardener, who had given himself a brief 
rest, took the ball again with an air of determination. 

*' Peters doesn't seem to remember that I also bowl," 
reflected Lord Lynborough. 

The next moment he was glad of this omission. 
Young Woodwell was playing for safety now — ^his fifty 
loom^ ahead I Lynborough had time for a glance 
round. He saw Stabb saunter on to the field ; then — 
just behind where he stood when the second gardener 
was bowling from the Lynborough Arms end of the 
field — a waggonette drove up. Four ladies descended. 
A bench was placed at their disposal, and the two men- 
servants at once began to make preparations for lunch, 
aided therein by the ostler from the Lynborough Arms, 
who rigged up a table on trestles under a spreading 
tree. 

Lord Lynborough's reputation as a sportsman inevit- 
ably suffers from this portion of the narrative. Yet 
extenuating circumstances may fairly be pleaded. He 
was deeply interested in the four ladies who sat behind 
him on the bench; he was vitally concerned in the 
question of the lunch. As he walked back, between 
tint overs, to his position, he could see that places were 
being set for some half-dozen people. Would there be 
half-a-dozen there? As he stood, watching, or trying 
to watch, young Woodwell's dangerous bat, he over- 
heard firagments of conversation wafted from the bench. 
The ladies were too far from him to allow of their faces 



68 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE ^H 

being clearly seen, but it was not hard to recognise their 
figures. 

The last man in had joined young Woodwell. That 
hero's score was forty-eight, the total ninety -three. 
The second gardener was tempting the Easthorpe 
champion with an occasional slow ball ; up to now 
young Woodwell had declined to hit at these de- 
ceivers. 

Suddenly Lynborough heard the ladies' voices quite 
plainly. They — or some of them — had left the bench 
and come nearer to the boundary. Irresistibly drawn 
by curiosity, for an instant he turned his head. As the 
same instant the second gardener delivered a slow ball 
— a specious ball. This time young Woodwell fell into 
the snare. He jumped out and opened his shoulders to 
it. He hit it — but he hit it into the air. It soared over 
the bowler's head and came travelling through high 
heaven towards Lord Lynborough. 

"Look outl" cried the second gardener. Lyn- 
borough's head spun round again — but his nerves were 
shaken. His eyes seemed rather in the back of his head, 
trying to see the Marchesa's face, than fixed on the ball 
that was coming towards him. He was in no mood for 
bringing off a safe catch ! 

Silence reigned, the ball began to drop. Lynborough 
had an instant to wait for it. He tried to think of the 
ball and the ball only. 

It fell — it fell into his hands ; he caught it — fumbled 
it — caught it — fumbled it again — and at last dropped it 
on the grass ! " Oh ! " went in a long-drawn expostula- 
tion round the field ; and Lynborough heard a voice say 
plainly : 

"Who is that stupid clumsy man?" The voice was 
the Marchesa's. 

He wheeled round sharply — but her back was turned. 
He had not seen her face after all ! 

" Over ! " was called. Lynborough apologised abjectly 
to the second gardener. 



HELENA'S PATH 



69 



" The sun was in my eyes, Peters, and dazzled me." 
he pleaded. 

" Looks to me as if the sun was shining the other way, 
ray lord," said Peters drily. And so, in physical fact, it 
was. 

In Peters' next over Lynborough atoned — for young 
Woodweil had got his fifty and grown reckless. A one- 
handed catch, wide on his left side, made the welkin 
ring with applause. The luncheon bell rang too — for 
the innings was finished. Score loi. Last man out 52. 
Jim (office boy at Polytechnic) not out o. Young 
Woodweil received a merited ovation — and Lord 
Lynborough hurried to the luncheon tent. The Mar- 
chesa, with an exceedingly dignified mien, repaired to 
her table under the spreading oak. 

Mr Dawson had done himself more than justice; the 
repast was magnificent. When Stillford and Irons saw 
it, thej' became more sure than ever what their duty 
was, more convinced still that the Marchesa would 
understand. Colonel Wenman became less sure what 
his duty was — previously it had appeared to him that 
it was to lunch with the Marchesa, But the Marchesa 
bad spoken of a few sandwiches and perhaps a bottle of 
claret. Stillford told him that, as umpire, he ought to 
lunch with the teams. Irons declared it would look 
"deuced standoffish" if he didn't. Lynborough, who 
appeared to act as deputy-landlord to Mr Dawson, 
pressed him into a chair with a friendly hand. 

" Well, she'll have the ladies with her, won't she ? " 
said the Colonel, his last scruple vanishing before a 
large jug of hock-cup. artfully iced, The Nab Grange 
contingent fell to. 

Just then — when they were irrevocably committed to 
this feast — the flap of the tent was drawn back, and 
Lady Norah's face appeared. Behind her stood Violet 
and Miss Gilletson. Lynborough ran forward to meet 
them. 

" Here we are. Lord Lynborough," said Norah. " The 



7° 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Marchesa was so kind, she told us to do just as we liked, 
and we thouglit it would be such fun to lunch with the 
cricketers." 

"The cricketers are immensely honoured. Let me 
introduce you to our captain, Mr Peters. Vou must sit 
by him, you know. And, Miss Dufaure, will you sit by 
Mr Jeffreys? — ^he's their captain — Miss Dufaure — Mr 
Jeffreys, You, Miss Gillctson, must sit between Mr 
Dawson and me. Now we're right — What, Colonel 
Wenman ? — What's the matter ? " 

Wenman had risen from his place, "The — the 
Marchesa!" he said, "We — we can't leave her to 
lunch alone!" 

Lady Norah broke in again. "Oh, Helena expressly 
said that she didn't expect the gentlemen. She knows 
what the custom is, you see," 

The Marchesa had, no doubt, made all these speeches. 
It may, however, be doubted whether Norah reproduced 
exactly the manner, and the spirit, in which she made 
them. But the iced hock-cup settled the Colonel. With 
a relieved sigh he resumed his place. The business of 
the moment went on briskly for a quarter of an hour. 

Mr Dawson rose, glass in hand. " Ladies and gentle- 
men," said he, " I'm no hand at a speech, but I give you 
the health of our kind neighbour and good host to-day 
— Lord Lynborough. Here's to his lordship ! " 

" I — [ didn't know he was giving the lunch I" whispered 
Colonel Wenman. 

" Is it his lunch ? " said Irons, nudging StJllford. 

Stillford laughed. "It looks like it. And we can 
hardly throw him over the hedge after this!" 

*' Well, he seems to be a jolly good chap," said Captain 

Lynborough bowed his acknowledgments, and flirted 
with Miss Gilletson ; his face wore a contented smile. 
Here they all were — and the Marchesa lunched alone 
on the other side of the field I Here indeed was a new 
wedge I Here was the isolation at which his diabolical 



HELENA'S PATH 71 

schemes had aimed. He had captured Nab Grange I 
Bag and baggage they had come over — and left their 
chieftainess deserted. 

Then suddenly — ^in the midst of his triumph — in the 
midst too of a certain not ungenerous commiseration 
which he felt that he could extend to a defeated enemy 
and to beauty in distress — ^he became vaguely aware of 
a gap in his company. Stabb was not there! Yet 
Stabb had come upon the ground. He searched the 
company again. No, Stabb was not there. Moreover 
— a fact the second search revealed — Roger Wilbraham 
was not there. Roger was certainly not there; yet, 
whatever Stabb might do, Roger would never miss 
lunch I 

Lynborough's eyes grew thoughtful; he pursed up 
his lips. Miss Gilletson noticed that he became silent. 

He could bear the suspense no longer. On a pretext 
of looking for more bottled beer, he rose and walked 
to the door of the tent. 

Under the spreading tree the Marchesa lunched — not 
in isolation, not in gloom. She had company — and, 
even as he appeared, a merry peal of laughter was 
wafted by a favouring breeze across the field of battle. 
Stabb's ponderous figure, Roger Wilbraham's highly 
recognisable "blazer," told the truth plainly. 

Lord Lynborough was not the only expert in the art 
of driving wedges I 

" Well played, Helena I " he said under his breath. 

The rest of the cricket match interested him very 
little. Successful beyond their expectations, Fillby 
won by five runs (Wilbraham not out thirty-seven) 
— but Lynborough's score did not swell the victorious 
total. In Easthorpe's second innings — ^which could not 
affect the result — Peters let him bowl, and he got young 
Woodwell's wicket That was a distinction ; yet, look- 
ing at the day as a whole, he had scored less than he 
expected. 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



CHAPTER X 



IN THE LAST RESORT! 

It will have been perceived by now that Lord Lj'l 
borough delighted in a fight. He revelled in being 
opposed ; the man who withstood him to the face gave 
him such pleasure as to beget in his mind certainly 
gratitude, perhaps aflfection, or at least a predisposition 
thereto. There was nothing he liked so much as an 
even battle — unless, by chance, it were the scales seem- 
ing to incline a little against him. Then his spirits rose 
highest, his courage was most buoyant, his kindliness 
most sunny. 

The benefit of this disposition accrued to the Marchesa; 
for by her sudden counter-attack she had at least re- 
dressed the balance of the campaign. He could not be 
sure that she had not done more. The ladies of her 
party were his — he reckoned confidently on that; but 
the men he could not count as more than neutral at the 
best ; Wenman, anyhow, could easily be whistled back 
to the Marchesa's heel. But in his own house, he ad- 
mitted at once, she had secured for him open hostility, 
for herself the warmest of partisanship. The meaning 
of her lunch was too plain to doubt. No wonder her 
opposition to her own deserters had been so faint ; no 
wonder she had so readily, even if so scornfully, afforded 
them the pretext — the barren verbal permission — that 
they had required. She had not wanted them — no, not 
even the Colonel himself! She had wanted to be alone 
with Roger and with Stabb — and to complete the work 
of her blandishments on those guileless, tender-hearted, 
and susceptible persons. Lynborough admired, ap- 
plauded, and promised himself considerable entertain- 
ment at dinner. 

How was the Marchesa, in her turn, bearing her 
domestic isolation, the internal disaffection at Nab 



HELENA'S PATH 

Grange? He flattered himself that she would not be 
finding in it such pleasure as bis whimsical temper 
reaped from the corresponding position of affairs at 
Scars moor. 

There he was right. At Nab Grange the atmosphere 
was not cheerful. Not to want a thing by no means 
implies an admission that you do not want it; that is 
elementary diplomacy. Rather do you insist that you 
want it very much ; if you do not get it, there is a 
grievance — and a grievance is a mighty handy article 
of barter. The Marchcsa knew ali that. 

The deserters were severely lashed. The Marchcsa 
had said that she did not expect Colonel Wenman ; 
ought she to have sent a message to say that she was 
pining for him — must that be wrung from her before he 
would condescend to come? She had said that she 
knew the custom with regard to lunch at cricket matches ; 
was that to say that she expected it to be observed to 
her manifest and public humiliation? She had told 
Miss Gilletson and the girls to please themselves; of 
course she wished them to do that always. Yet it 
might be a wound to find that their pleasure lay in 
abandoning their friend and hostess, in consorting with 
her arch-enemy, and giving him a triumph. 

" Well, what do you say about Wilbraham and 
Stabb ? " cried the trampled Colonel. 

" I say that they're gentlemen," retorted the Marchesa. 
'■ They saw the position I was in — and they saved me 
from humiliation." 

That was enough for the men ; men are, after all, poor 
fighter.'!. It was not, however, enough for Lady Norah 
Mountliffey— a woman — and an Iri.ihwoman to boot) 

"Are you really asking us to believe that you hadn't 
arrai^ed it with them beforehand ? " she inquired scorn- 
folly. 

"Oh, I don't ask you to believe anything I say," 
returned the Marchesa, dexterously avoiding saying 
anything on the point suggested. 



74 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"The truth is, you're being very absurd, Helena," 
Norah pursued. " [f you've got a right, go to law with 
Lord Lynborough and make him respect it. If you 
haven't got a right, why go on making yourself ridicu- 
lous and all the rest of us very uncomfortable? " 

It was obvious that the Marchesa might reply that 
any guest of hers who felt himself or herself uncomfort- 
able at Nab Grange had, in his or her own hand, the 
easy remedy. She did not do that. She did a thing 
more disconcerting still. Though the mutton had only 
just been put on the table, she pushed back her chair, 
rose to her feet, and Red from the room very hastily. 

Miss Gilletson sprang up. But Norah was before- 
hand with her. 

"No! I said it. I'm the one to go. Who could 
think she'd take it like that?" Norah's own blue 
eyes were less bright than usual as she hurried after 
her wounded friend. The rest ate on in dreary con- 
science-stricken silence. At last Stillford spoke. 

" Don't urge her to go to law," he said. " I'm pretty 
sure she'd be beaten." 

" Then she ought to give in— and apologise to Lord 
Lynborough," said Miss Gilletson decisively. "That 
would be right — and, I will add. Christian." 

" Humble Pie ain't very good eating," commented 
Captain Irons. 

Neither the Marchesa nor Norah came back. The 
meal wended along its slow and melancholy course to a 
mirthless weary conclusion. Colonel Wenman began 
to look on the repose of bachelorhood with a kinder eye, 
on its loneliness with a more tolerant disposition. He 
went so far as to remember that, if the worst came to the 
worst, he had another invitation for the following week. 

The Spirit of Discord (The tragic atmosphere now 
gathering justifies these figures of speech^ — the chronicler 
must rise to the occasion of a heroine in tears), having 
wrought her fell work at Nab Grange, now winged 1 
way to the towers of Scarsmoor Castle. 



i«iii^ 



HELENA'S PATH 75 

Dinner had passed off quite as Lynborough antici- 
pated ; he had enjoyed himself exceedingly. Whenever 
the temporary absence of the servants allowed, he had 
rallied his friends on their susceptibility to beauty, on 
their readiness to fail him under its lures, on their 
clumsy attempts at concealment of their growing inti- 
macy, and their confidential relations, with the fascina- 
ting mistress of Nab Grange. He too had been told to 
take his case into the Courts or to drop his claim — 
and had laughed triumphantly at the advice. He had 
laughed when Stabb said that he really could not 
pursue his work in the midst of such distractions, that 
his mind was too perturbed for scientific thought. He 
had laughed lightly and good-humouredly even when 
(as they were left alone over coffee) Roger Wilbraham, 
going suddenly a little white, said he thought that 
persecuting a lady was no fit amusement for a gentle- 
man. Lynborough did not suppose that the Marchesa 
— with the battle of the day at least drawn, if not de- 
cided in her favour — could be regarded as the subject 
of persecution — and he did recognise that young fellows, 
under certain spells, spoke hotly and were not to be 
held to serious account. He was smiling still when, 
with a forced remark about the heat, the pair went out 
together to smoke on the terrace. He had some letters 
to read, and for the moment dismissed the matter from 
his mind. 

In ten minutes young Roger Wilbraham returned; 
his manner was quiet now, but his face still rather pale. 
He came up to the table by which Lynborough sat 

''Holding the position I do in your house. Lord 
Lynborough," he said, " I had no right to use the words 
I used this evening at dinner. I apologise for them. 
But, on the other hand, I have no wish to hold a posi- 
tion which prevents me from using those words when 
they represent what I think. I b^ you to accept my 
resignation, and I shall be greatly obliged if you can 
arrange to relieve me of my duties as soon as possible." 



76 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Lynborough heard him without interruption ; with 
grave impassive face, with surprise, pity, and a secret 
amusement. Even if he were right, he was so solemn 
over it ! 

The young man waited for no answer. With the 
merest indication o( a bow, he left Lynborough alone, 
and passed on into the house. 

" Well, now ! " said Lord Lynborough, rising and 
lighting a cigar. " This Marchesa ! Well, now 1 " 

Stabb's heavy form came lumbering in from the 
terrace ; he seemed to move more heavily than ever, as 
though his bulk were even unusually inert. He plumped 
down into a chair and looked up at Lynborough 's grace- 
ful figure. 

" I meant what I said at dinner, Ambrose. I wasn't 
joking, though I suppose you thought I was. All this 
affair may amuse you — it worries me. 1 can't settle to 
work. If you'll be so kind as to send me over to 
Easthorpe to-morrow, I'll be off — back to Oxford." 

" Cromlech, old boy ! " 

" Yes, I know. But I — I don't want to stay, Ambrose, 
I'm not — comfortable." His great face set in a heavy, 
disconsolate, wrinkled frown. 

Lord Lynborough pursed his lips in a momentary 
whistle, then put his cigar back into his mouth, and 
walked out on to the terrace. 

"This Marchesa!" said he again. "This very re- 
markable Marchesa I Her riposte is admirable. Really 
I venture to hope that I, in my turn, have very seriously 
disturbed her household !" 

He walked to the edge of the terrace, and stood there 
musing. Sandy Nab loomed up, dimly the sea rose and 
fell, twinkled and sank into darkness. It talked too — 
talked to Lynborough with a soft, low, quiet voice; it 
seemed (to his absurdly whimsical imagination) as though 
some lovelywomangentlystrokedhisbrowand whispered 
to him. He liked to encourage such freaks of fancy. 

Cromlech couldn't go. That was absurd. 



HELENAS PATH ^^ 

And the young fellow? So much a gentleman! 
Lynborough had liked the terms of his apology no less 
than the firmness of his protest. " It's the first time, I 
think, that I've been told that I'm no gentleman," he 
reflected with amusement But Roger had been pale 
when he said it. Imaginatively Lynborough assumed 
his place. "A brave boy," he said. "And that dear 
old knight-errant of a Cromlech ! " 

A space — ^room indeed and room enough— for the 
softer emotions — ^so much Lynborough was ever inclined 
to allow. But to acquiesce in this state of things as 
final — ^tbat was to admit defeat at the hands of the 
Marchesa. It was to concede that one day had changed 
the whole complexion of the fight 

"Cromlech sha'n't go— the boy sha'n't go — and I'll 
still use the path," he thought. '' Not that I really care 
about the path, you know." He paused. " Well, yes, 
I do care about it — for bathing in the morning." He 
hardened his heart against the Marchesa. She chose 
to fight ; the fortune of war must be hers. He turned 
his eyes down to Nab Grange. Lights burned there — 
were her guests demanding to be sent to Easthorpe? 
Why, no ! As he looked, Lynborough came to the 
conclusion that she had reduced them all to order — 
that they would be whipped back to heel — that his 
manoeuvres (and his lunch !) had probably been wasted. 
He was beaten then ? 

He scorned the conclusion. But if he were not — the 
result was deadlock I Then still he was beaten ; for 
unless Helena (he called her that) owned his right, his 
right was to him as nothing. 

*' I have made myself a champion of my sex," he said. 
"ShaUIbebeaten?" 

In that moment — with all the pang of forsaking an 
old conviction — of disowning that stronger tie, the 
loved embrace of an ancient and perversely championed 
prejudice — he declared that any price must be paid for 
victory. 



78 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" Heaven forgive me, but, sooner than be beaten, I'll 
go to law with her ! " he cried. 

A face appeared from between two bushes — a void 
spoke from the edge of the terrace, 

" I thought you might be interested to hear— 

" Lady Norah ? " 

" Yes, it's me — to hear that you've made her t 
and very bitterly." 



CHAPTER XI 



AN ARMISTICE 

Lord Lvn borough walked down to the edge of 
the terrace; Lady Norah stood half hidden in the 
shubbery. 

" And that, 1 suppose, ought to end the matter ? " he 
asked. " i ought at once to abandon all my pretensions 
and to give up my path?" 

"i just thought you might like to know it," said 
Norah. 

" Actually I believe I do like to know it — though 
what Roger would say to me about that I really can't 
imagine. You're mistaking my character, Lady Norah. 
I'm not the hero of this piece. There are several gentle- 
men from among whom you can choose one for that 
effective part. Lots of candidates for it! But I'm the 
villain. Consequently you must be prepared for my 
receiving your news with devilish glee." 
" Well, you haven't seen it — and I have." 
" Well put ! " he allowed. " How did it happen .' " 
" Over something I said to her — something horrid." 

"Well, then, why am I ?" Lynborough's hands 

expostulated eloquentlj'. 

" But you were the real reason, of course. She thinks 
you've turned us all against her ; she says it's so mean 
to get her own friends to turn against her." 



HELENA'S PATH 79 

" Does she now ? " asked Lord Lynborough with a 
thoughtful smile. 

Norah too smiled faintly. " She says she's not angry 
with us — she's just sorry for us — because she under- 
stands " 

"What?" 

" I mean she says she — she can imagine " Norah's 

smile grew a little more pronounced. " I'm not sure 
she'd like me to repeat that/' said Norah. *' And of 
course she doesn't know I'm here at all — and you must 
never tell her." 

"Of course ifs all my fault. Still, as a matter of 
curiosity, what did you say to her ? " 

" I said that, if she had a good case, she ought to go 
to hiw ; and, if she hadn't, she ought to stop making 
herself ridiculous and the rest of us uncomfortable." 

** You spoke with the general assent of the company ? " 

" I said what I thought — yes^ I think they all agreed 
— ^but she took it — well, in the way I've told you, you 
know." 

Lady Norah had, in the course of conversation, in- 
sensibly advanced on to the terrace. She stood there 
now beside Lynborough. 

"How do you think I'm taking it?" he asked. 
" Doesn't my fortitude wring applause from you ? " 

" Taking what ? " 

" Exactly the same thing from my friends. They tell 
me to go to law if I've got a case — and at any rate to 
stop persecuting a lady. And they've both given me 
warning." 

"Mr Stabb and Mr Wilbraham? They're going 
away?" 

"So it appears. Carry back those tidings. Won't 
they dry the Marchesa's tears?" 

Norah looked at him with a smile. "Well, it is 
pretty clever of her, isn't it ? " she said. " I didn't think 
she'd got along as quickly as that ! " Norah's voice was 
full of an honest and undisguised admiration. 



8o 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



" It's a little unreasonable of her to cry under the 
circumstances. I'm not crying, Lady Norah." 

" I expect you're rather disgusted, though, aren't 
you?" she suggested. 

" I'm a little vexed at having to surrender — for the 
moment — a principle which I've held dear — at having 
to give my enemies an occasion for mockery. But 1 
must bow to my friends' wishes. I can't lose them 
under such painful circumstances. No, I must yield, 
Lady Norah." 

" You're going to give up the path t " she cried, not 
sure whether she were pleased or not with his deter- 
mination. 

" Dear me, no I I'm going to law about it." 

Open dismay was betrayed in her exclamation ; " Oh, 
but what will Mr Stillford say to that?" 

Lynborough laughed, Norah saw her mistake — but 
she made no attempt to remedy it. She took up 
another line of tactics. " It would all come right if 
only you knew one another! She's the most wonder- 
ful woman in the world, Lord Lynborough. And 
you " 

" Well, what of me ? " he asked in deceitful gravity. 

Norah parried, with a hasty little laugh; "Just ask 
Miss Gilletson that!" 

Lynborough smiled for a moment, then took a turn 
along the terrace, and came back to her. 

"You must tell her that you've seen r 

" I couldn't do that ! " 

" You must — or here the matter ends, and 1 shall 

forced to go to law — ugh ! Tell her you've seen rac, 
and that I'm open to reason " 

" Lord Lynborough ! How can I tell her that ? " 

" That I'm open to reason, and that 1 propose an 
armistice. Not peace—not yet, anyhow — but an arm- 
istice. I undertake not to exercise my right over Beach 
Path for a week from to-day, and before the end of that 
week I will submit a proposal to the Marchesa." 



4 



i 



HELENA'S PATH 8i 

Norah saw a gleam of hope. "Very well. I don't 
know what she'll say to me, but I'll tell her that. 
Thank you. You'll make it a — a pleasant proposal ? " 

''I haven't had time to consider the proposal yet 
She must inform me to-morrow morning whether she 
accepts the armistice." He suddenly turned to the 
house, and shouted up to a window above his head, 
" Roger ! " 

The window was open. Roger Wilbraham put his 
head out. 

" Come down," said Lynborough. " Here's somebody 
wants to see you." 

" I never said I did, Lord Lynborough." 

*• Let him take you home. He wants cheering up." 

" I like him very much. He won't really leave you, 
will he?" 

" I want you to persuade him to stay during the 
armistice. I'm too proud to ask him for myself I 
shall think very little of you, however, if he doesn't." 

Roger appeared. Lynborough told him that Lady 
Norah required an escort back to Nab Grange ; for 
obvious reasons he himself was obliged to relinquish 
the pleasure ; Roger, he felt sure, would be charmed to 
take his place. R<^er was somewhat puzzled by the 
turn of events, but delighted with his mission. 

Lynborough saw them off, went into the library, sat 
down at his writing-table, and laid paper before him. 
But he sat idle for many minutes. Stabb came in, his 
arms full of books. 

"I think I left some of my stuff here," he said, 
avoiding Lynborough's eye. " I'm just getting it 
together." 

"Drop that lot too. You're not going to-morrow. 
Cromlech, there's an armistice." 

Stabb put his books down on the table, and came up 
to him with outstretched hand. Lynborough leant 
back, his hands clasped behind his head. 

"Wait for a week," he said. "We may. Cromlech, 



82 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

arrive at an accommodation. Meanwhile, for that 
week, I do not use the path." 

" I've been feeling pretty badly, Ambrose." 

"Yes, I don't think it's safe to expose you to the 
charms of beauty." He looked at his friend in good- 
natured mockery. " Return to your tombs in peace." 

The next morning he received a communication 
from Nab Grange, It ran as follows r — 

" The Marchesa di San Servolo presents her com- 
pliments to Lord Lynborough. The Marchesa will be 
prepared to consider any proposal put forward by Lord 
Lynborough, and will place no hindrance in the way 
of Lord Lynborough's using the path across her pro- 
perty if it suits his convenience to do so in the 
meantime." 

" No. no I " said Lynborough, as he took a sheet of 
paper. 

"Lord Lynborough presents his compliments to her 
Excellency the Marchesa di San Servolo. Lord Lyn- 
borough will take an early opportunity of submitting 
his proposal to the Marchesa di San Servolo. He is 
obliged for the Marchesa di San Servolo's suggestion 
that he should in the meantime use Beach Path, but 
cannot consent to do so except in the exercise of his 
right. He will therefore not use Beach Path during 
the ensuing week." 

"And now to pave the way for my proposal!" he 
thought. For the proposal, which had assumed a position 
so important in the relations between the Marchesa 
and himself, was to be of such a nature that a grave 
question arose how best the way should be paved for it. 

The obvious course was to set his spies to work — 
he could command plenty of friendly help among the 
Nab Grange garrison — learn the Marchesa's probable 
movements, throw himself in her way, contrive an 
acquaintance, make himself as pleasant as he could, 
establish relations of amity, of cordiality, even of fdex 
ship and of intimacy. That might prepare the i 



HELENA^S PATH 83 

and incline her to accept the proposal — to take the 
jest — it was little more in hard reality — in the spirit in 
which he put it forward, and so to end her resistance. 

That seemed the reasonable method — the plain and 
rational line of advance. Accordingly Lynborough 
disliked and distrusted it He saw another way — more 
full of risk, more hazardous in its result, making an 
even greater demand on his confidence in himself, 
perhaps also on the qualities with which his imagina- 
tion credited the Marchesa. But, on the other hand, 
this alternative was far richer in surprise, in dash — 
as it seemed to him, in gallantry and a touch of romance. 
It was far more mediaeval, more picturesque, more in 
keeping with the actual proposal itself For the actual 
proposal was one which, Lynborough flattered himself, 
might well have come from a powerful yet chivalrous 
baron of old days to a beautiful queen who claimed 
a suzerainty which not her power, but only her beauty, 
could command or enforce. 

" It suits my humour, and Til do it I " he said. " She 
sha'n't see me, and I won't see her. The first she shall 
hear from me shall be the proposal ; the first time we 
meet shall be on the twenty-fourth — or never ! A 
week from to-day — the twenty-fourth." 

Now the twenty- fourth of June is, as all the world 
knows (or an almanac will inform the heathen), the 
Feast of St John Baptist, also called Midsummer Day. 

So he disappeared from the view of Nab Grange 
and tha inhabitants thereof He never left his own 
grounds; even within them he shunned the public 
road ; his beloved sea-bathing he abandoned. Nay, 
more, he strictly charged Roger Wilbraham, who often 
during this week of armistice went to play golf or tennis 
at the Grange, to say nothing of him ; the same instruc- 
tions were laid on Stabb in case, on his excursions 
amidst the tombs, he should meet any member of the 
Marchesa's party. So far as the thing could be done, 
Lord Lynborough obliterated himself 




TAl,ES OF TWO PEOPLE 



It was playing a high stake on a risky hand. Plainly 
it assumed an interest in himself on the part of the 
Marchesa — an interest so strong that absence and 
mystery (if perchance he achieved a flavour of that 
attraction !) would foster and nourish it more than 
presence and friendship could conduce to its increase. 
She might think nothing about him during the week! 
Impossible surely — with all that had gone before, and 
with his proposal to come at the end 1 But if it were 
so^why, so he was content " In that case, she's a 
woman of no imagination, of no taste in the pic- 
turesque," he said. 

For five days the Marchesa gave no sign, no clue 
to her feelings which the anxious watchers could de- 
tect She did indeed suffer Colonel Wenman to depart 
all forlorn, most unsuccessful and uncomforted — save 
by the company of his brother- in -arms, Captain Irons ; 
and he was not cheerful either, having failed notably 
in certain designs on Miss Dufaure which he had been 
pursuing, but whereunto more pressing matters have 
not allowed of attention being given. But Lord Lyn- 
borough she never mentioned — not to Miss Gilletson, 
nor even to Norah. She seemed to have regained her 
tranquillity ; her wrath at least was over; she was very 
friendly to all the ladies ; she was markedly cordial 
to Roger Wilbraham on his visits. But she asked him 
nothing of Lord Lynborough^and, if she ever looked 
from the window towards Scarsmoor Castle, none — not 
even her observant maid — saw her do it. 

Yet Cupid wa.s in the Grange — and very busy. 
There were signs, not to be misunderstood, that Violet 
had not for handsome Stillford the scorn she had 
bestowed on unfortunate Irons ; and Roger, humbly 
and distantly worshipping the Marchesa, deeming her 
far as a queen beyond his reach, rested his eyes and 
solaced his spirit with the less awe-inspiring charms, the 
more accessible comradeship, of Norah MountlifFey. 
Norah, as her custom was, flirted hard, yet in her 




HELENA^S PATH 85 

delicate fashion. Though she had not begun to ask 
herself about the end yet, she was well amused, and by 
no means insensible to Roger's attractions. Only she 
was preoccupied with Helena — and Lord Lynborough. 
Till that riddle was solved, she could not turn seriously 
to her own affairs. 

On the night of the twenty-second she walked with 
the Marchesa in the gardens of the Grange after dinner. 
Helena was very silent ; yet to Norah the silence did 
not seem empty. Over against them, on its high hill, 
stood Scarsmoor Castle. Roger had dined with them, 
but had now gone back. 

Suddenly — and boldly — Norah spoke. " Do you see 
those three lighted windows on the ground floor at the 
left end of the house ? That's his library, Helena. He 
sits there in the evening. Oh, I do wonder what he's 
been doing all this week 1 " 

" What does it matter ? " asked the Marchesa coldly. 

" What will he propose, do you think ? " 

*' Mr Stillford thinks he may offer to pay me some 
small rent — more or less nominal — for a perpetual right 
— and that, if he does, I'd better accept" 

" That'll be rather a dull ending to it all." 

''Mr Stillford thinks it would be a favourable one 
for me." 

^ I don't believe he means to pay you money. Itll 
be something" — ^she paused a moment — ''something 
prettier than that" 

" What has prettiness to do with it, you child ? With 
a right of way?" 

" Prettiness has to do with you, though, Helena. You 
don't suppose he thinks only of that wretched path ? " 

The flush came on the Marchesa's cheek. 

"He can hardly be said to have seen me," she 
protested. 

"Then look your best when he does — for I'm sure 
he's dreamt of you." 

" Why do you say that ? " 



86 




TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Norah laughed. " Because he's a man who takes a 
lot of notice of pretty women — and he took so very 
little notice of me. That's why I think so, Helena." 

The Marchesa made no comment on the reason 
given. But now — at last and undoubtedly — she looked 
across at the windows of Scarsmoor. 

" We shall come to some business arrangement, I 
suppose — and then it'll all be over," she said. 

All over? The trouble and the enmity — the defiance 
and the fight — the excitement and the fun? The duel 
would be stayed, the combatants and their seconds 
would go their various ways across the diverging tracks 
of this great dissevering world. All would be over 1 

" Then we shall have time to think of something 
else ! " the Marchesa added. 

Norah smiled discreetly. Was not that something of 
an admission? 

In the library at Scarsmoor Lynborough was indit- 
ing the proposal which he intended to submit by h^i 
ambassadors on the morrow. 



CHAPTER Xn 



AN EMBASSAGE 



(y h^l 
raved ' 



The Marchesa's last words to Lady Norah betrayed 
the state of her mind. While the question of the path 
was pending, she had been unable to think of anything 
else; until it was settled she could think of nobody 
except of the man in whose hands the settlement lay. 
Whether Lynborough attracted or repelled, he at least 
occupied and filled her thoughts. She had come to 
recognise where she stood and to face the position. 
Stillford's steady pessimism left her no hope from an 
invocation of the law; Lynborough's dexterity and re- 
source promised her no abiding victory — at best only 
precarious temporary successes — in a private continu- 




HELENA'S PATH 87 

ance of the stru^Ie. Worst of all — whilst she chafed 
or wept, he laughed I Certainly not to her critical 
friends, hardly even to her proud self, would she 
confess that she lay in her antagonist's mercy ; but the 
feeling of that was in her heart. If so, he could 
humiliate her sorely. 

Could he spare her? Or would he? Try how she 
might, it was hard to perceive how he could spare her 
without abandoning his right. That she was sure he 
would not do ; all she heard of him, every sharp in- 
tuition of him which she had, the mere glimpse of his 
face as he passed by on Sandy Nab, told her tiiat 

But if he consented to pay a small — a nominal — rent, 
would not her pride be spared ? No. That would be 
victory for him ; she would be compelled to surrender 
what she had haughtily refused, in return for something 
which she did not want and which was of no value. If 
that were a cloak for her pride, the fabric of it was 
terribly threadbare. Even such concession as lay in 
such an offer she had wrung from him by setting his 
friends against him ; would ^at incline him to tender- 
ness ? The offer might leave his friends still unrecon- 
ciled ; what comfort was that to her when once the fight 
and the excitement of countering blow with blow were 
done — when all was over ? And it was more likely that 
what seemed to her cruel would seem to Stabb and 
Roger reasonable— men had a terribly rigid sense of 
reason in business matters. They would return to 
their allegiance ; her friends would be ranged on the 
same side ; she would be alone — alone in humiliation 
and defeat From that fate in the end only Lynborough 
himself could rescue her ; only the man who threatened 
her with it could avert it And how could even he, save 
by a surrender which he would not make ? Yet if he 
found out a way ? 

The thought of that possibility — though she could 
devise or imagine no means by which it might find 
accomplishment — carried her towards Lynborough in a 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



n 



rush of feeling. The idea — never wholly lost even i 
her moments of anger and dejection — came back — the 
idea that all the time he had been playing a game, that 
he did not want the wounds to be mortal, that in the end 
he did nothate. Ifhedid not hate, he would not desire 
to hurt. But he desired to win. Could he win without 
hurting ? Then there was a reward for him — applause 
for his cleverness, and gratitude for his chivalry. 

Stretching out her arms towards Scaramoor Castle, 
she vowed that according to his deed she could hate or 
love Lord Lynborough. The next day was to decide 
that weighty question. 

The fateful morning arrived — the last day of the 
armistice — the twenty-third. The ladies were sitting 
on the lawn after breakfast when Stillford came out of 
the house with a quick step and an excited air. 

"Marchesa," he said, "the Embassy has arrived! 
Stabb and Wilbraham are at the front door, asking an 
audience of you. They bring the proposal ! " 

The Marchesa laid down her book ; Miss Gilletson 
made no effort to conceal her agitation. 

" Why didn't they come by the path ? " cried Norah. 

"They couldn't very well ; Lynborough's sent them 
in a carriage — with postillions and four horses," Still- 
ford answered gravely. " The postillions appear to 
be amused, but the Ambassadors are exceedingly 
solemn." 

The Marchesa's spirits rose. If the piece were to be 
a comedy, she could play her part ! The same idea was 
in Stillford's mind. " He can't mean to be very tin- 
pleasant if he plays the fool like this," he said, looking 
round on the company with a smile, 

"Admit the Ambassadors!" cried the Marchesa 
gaily. 

The Ambassadors were ushered on to the lawn. 
They advanced with a gravity befitting the occasion, 
and bowed low to the Marchesa, Roger carried a roll of 
paper of impressive dimensions. Stillford placed chairs 




HELENA'S PATH 89 

for the Ambassadors and, at a sign from the Marchesa, 
they seated themselves. 

"What is your message?" asked the Marchesa. 
Suddenly nervousness and fear laid hold of her again ; 
her voice shook a little. 

"We don't know," answered Stabb. "Give me the 
document, Roger." 

Roger Wilbraham handed him the scroll. 

" We are charged to deliver this to your Excellency's 
adviser, and to beg him to read it to you in our 
presence." He rose, delivered the scroll into Stillford's 
hands, and returned, majestic in his bulk, to his seat. 

" You neither of you know what's in it ? " the Mar- 
chesa asked. 

They shook their heads. 

The Marchesa took hold of Norah's hand and said 
quietly, " Please read it to us, Mr Stillford. I should 
like you all to hear." 

" That was also Lord Lynborough's desire," said Roger 
Wilbraham. 

Stillford unrolled the paper. It was all in Lyn- 
borough's own hand — written large and with fair 
flourishes. In mockery of the institution he hated, 
he had cast it in a form which at all events aimed at 
being legal ; too close scrutiny on that score perhaps it 
would not abide successfully. 

" Silence while the document is read I " said Stillford ; 
and he proceeded to read it in a clear and deliberate 
voice: 

"'Sir Ambrose Athelstan Caverly, Baronet, Baron 
Lynborough of Lynborough in the County of Dorset 
and of Scarsmoor in the County of Yorkshire, unto her 
Excellency Helena Vittoria Maria Antonia, Marchesa 
di San Servolo, and unto All to whom these Presents 
Come, Greeting. Whereas the said Lord Lynborough 
and his predecessors in title have been ever entitled as 
of right to pass and repass along the path called Beach 
Padi leading across the lands of Nab Grange from the 



go 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



road bounding the same on the west to the seashore on 
the east thereof, and to use the said path by themselves, 
their agents and servants, at their pleasure, without let 
or interference from any person or persons whatso- 
ever ' " 

Stitlford paused and loolced at the Marchesa. The 
document did not begin in a conciliatory manner. It 
asserted the right to use Beach Path in the most 
uncompromising way. 

"Go on," commanded the Marchesa, a little flushed, 
still holding Norah's hand. 

" ' And Whereas the said Lord Lynborough is desirous 
that his right as above defined shall receive the recog- 
nition of the said Marchesa, which recognition has 
hitherto been withheld and refused by the said Marchesa ; 
And Whereas great and manifold troubles have arisen 
from such refusal : And Whereas the said Lord Lyn- 
borough is desirous of dwelling in peace and amity with 
the said Marchesa ' " 

" There, Helena, you see he is ! " cried Norah 
triumphantly. 

" I really must not be interrupted," Stiltford protested. 
"'Now Therefore the said Lord Lynborough, moved 
thereunto by divers considerations and in chief by his 
said desire to dwell in amity and goodwill, doth engage 
and undertake that, in consideration of his receiving a 
full, gracious, and amicable recognition of his right from 
the said Marchesa, he shall and will, year by year and 
once a year, to wit on the Feast of St John Baptist, also 
known as Midsummer Day '" 

" Why, that's to-morrow ! " exclaimed Violet Dufaure. 

Once more Stillford commanded silence. The TerRjs 
of Peace were not to be rudely interrupted just as they 
were reaching the most interesting point. For up to 
now nothing had come except a renewed assertion of 
Lynborough's right ! 

'"That is to say the twenty-fourth day of June — 
repair in his own proper person, with or without 



HELENA'S PATH 

attendants as shall seem to him good, to Nab Grange 
or such other place as may then and on each occasion 
be the abode and residence of the said Marchesa, and 
shall and will present himself in the presence of the said 
Marchesa at noon. And that he then shall and will do 
homage to the said Marchesa for such full, gracious, and 
amicable recognition as above mentioned by falling on 
his knee and kissing the hand of the said Marchesa. 
And if the said Lord Lynborough shall wilfully or by 
neglect omit so to present himself and so to pay his 
homage on any such Feast of St John Baptist, then his 
said right shall be of no effect and shall be suspended 
(And he hereby engages not to exercise the same) until 
he shall have purged his contempt or neglect by per- 
forming his homage on the next succeeding Feast. 
Provided Always that the said Marchesa shall and will, 
a sufficient time before the said Feast in each year, 
apprise and inform the said Lord Lynborough of her 
intended place of residence, in default whereof the said 
Lord Lynborough shall not be bound to pay his homage 
and shall suffer no diminution of his right by reason of 
the omission thereof Provided Further and Finally 
that whensoever the said Lord Lynborough shall duly 
and on the due date as in these Presents stipulated 
present himself at Nab Grange or elsewhere the resid- 
ence for the time being of the said Marchesa, and claim 
to be admitted to the presence of the said Marchesa 
and to perform his homage as herein prescribed and 
ordered, the said Marchesa shall not and will not, on 
any pretext or for any cause whatsoever, deny or refuse 
to accept the said homage so duly proffered, but shall 
and will in all gracious condescension and neighbourly 
friendship extend and give her hand to the said Lord 
Lynborough, to the end and purpose that, he rendering 
and she accepting his homage in all mutual trust and 
honourable confidence. Peace may reign between Nab 
Grange and Scarsmoor Castle so long as they both do 
stand. In Witness whereof the said Lord Lynborough 



I 




92 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



JGH.' ''^H 






has (tfliixed his name on the Eve o( the said Ft 

St John Baptist. "Lvnborough. 

• Stillford ended his reading, and handed the scroll to 
the Marehesa with a bow. She took it and looked at 
Lynborough's signature. Her cheeks were flushed, and 
her lii>s struggled not to smile. The rest were sil< 
She Icwked at Stillford. who smiled back at her 
drew from his pocket — a stylographic pen. 

" Yes," she said, and took it. 

She wrote below Lynborough's name : 

" In Witness whereof, in a desire for peace and amity, in 
all mutual trust and honourable confidence, the said Mar- 
ehesa has affixed her name on this same Eve of the said 
FeaatofSt John Baptist Helena di San Servolo." 

She handed it back to Stillford. " Let it dry in the 
beautiful sunlight," she said. 

The Ambft^adors rose to their feet. She rose too 
and went over to Stabb with outstretched hands. A 
broad smile spread over Stabb's spacious faca " It's 
just like Ambrose," he said to her as he took her hands. 
" He gets what he wants — but in the prettiest way ! " 

She ansvfcrcd him in a low voice : " A very knightly 
way of savinc a foolish woman's pride." She raised 
her voice. "Bid Lord Lynborough — ay. Sir Ambrose 
Alhcl^tan Caverly. Baron Lynborough, attend here at 
Nah lirange to pay his homage to-morrow at noon." 
She looked rt>und on them all, smiling now openly, the 
red in her cheeks all triumphant over her olive hue. 
"Say 1 will give him private audience to receive his 
homaoie and to ask his friendship." With that the 
Mart:he<iA de^Mrted, somewhat suddenly, into the house. 

Amid much merriment and reciprocal congratula- 
IKmu the Ambassadors were honourably escorted back 
hi their coach and four. 

" Keep vour eye on the Castle to-night," Roger Wil- 
bmhani whispered to Norah as he piessed her hand. 

TItry drove off". Stillford leading a gay " Hurrah ! " 

At niitht Indeed Scarsmoor Castle was a sight to see. 



HELENA'S PATH 93 

Every window of its front blazed with light; rockets 
and all manner of amazing bright devices rose to heaven. 
All Fillby turned out to see the show ; all Nab Grange 
was in the garden looking on. 

All save Helena herself. She had retreated to her 
own room ; there she sat and watched alone. She was 
in a fever of feeling and could not rest She twisted 
one hand round the other, she held up before her eyes 
the hand which was destined to receive homage on the 
morrow. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks flushed, her 
red lips trembled. 

" Alas, how this man knows his way to my heart ! " 
she sighed. 

The blaze at Scarsmoor Castle died down. A kindly 
darkness fell. Under its friendly cover she kissed her 
hand to the Castle, murmuring " To-morrow ! " 



CHAPTER Xni 

THE FEAST OF ST JOHN BAPTIST 

**As there's a heaven above us," wrote Lynborough 
that same night — having been, one would fain hope, 
telepathically conscious of the hand-kissing by the red 
lips, of the softly breathed " To-morrow ! " (for if he 
were not, what becomes of Love's Magic ?) — ** As there's 
a heaven above us, I have succeeded ! Her answer is 
more than a consent — it's an appreciation. The rogue 
knew how she stood : she is haughtily, daintily grateful. 
Does she know how near she drove me to the abomin- 
able thing? Almost had I — I, Ambrose Caverly— 
issued a writ ! I should never, in all my life, have got. 
over the feeling of being a bailiff! She has saved me 
by the Tightness of her taste. * Knightly * she called it 
to old Cromlech. Well, that was in the blood — it had 
been my own fault if I had lost it, no credit of mine 
if to some measure I have it still. But to find the 



94 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



recognition t I have lit up the countryside to-night to 
celebrate that rare discovery. 

" Rare — yes — yet not doubted. 1 Itnew it of her, 
1 believe that I have broken all records — since the 
Renaissance at least. Love at first sight! Where's 
the merit Jn that? Given the sight be fine enough (a 
thing that 1 pray may not admit of doubt in the case 
of Helena), it is no exploit; it is rather to suffer the 
inevitable than to achieve the great But unless the 
sight of a figure a hundred yards away — and of a back 
fifty — is to count against me as a practical inspection, 
I am so supremely lucky as never to have seen her ! 
I have made her for myself — a few tags of description, 
a noting of the effect on Roger and on Cromlech, mildly 
(and very unimaginatively) aided my work, I admit — 
but for the most part, and in all essentials, she, as I 
love her (for of course I love her, or no amount of 
Feasts of St John Baptist should have moved me from 
my path — take that for literal or for metaphorical as ye 
will I) — is of my own craftsmanship — work of my heart 
and brain, wrought just as I would have her — as I knew, 
through all delightful wanderings, that some day she 
must come to me. 

"Think then of my mood for to-morrow! With 
what feelings do I ring the bell (unless perchance it be 
a knocker)! With what sensations accost the butler! 
With what emotions enter the presence ! Because if by 

chance I am wrong 1 Upon which awful doubt 

arises the question whether, if I be wrong. I can go 
back. I am plaguily the slave of putting the thing as 
prettily as it can be put (Thanks, Cromlech, for giving 
me the adverb — not so bad a touch for a Man of 
Tombs !), and, on my soul, 1 have put that homage of 
mine so prettily that one who was prudent would ha^-e 
addressed it to none other than a married lady — vivente 
marilo, be it understood. But from my goddess her 
mortal mate is gone — and to explain — nay, not to ex- 
plain (which would indeed tax every grace of style) 



■A*. 



HELENA'S PATH 95 

— ^but to let it appear that the homage lingers, abides, 
and is confined within the letter of the bond — that 
would seem scarce ' knightly.' Therefore, being (as all 
tell me) more of a fool than most men, and (as I 
soberly hope) not less of a gentleman, I stand thus. I 
love the Image I have made out of dim distant sight, 
prosaic shreds of catalogued description, a vividly 
creating mind, and — to be candid — the absolute neces- 
sity of amusing myself in the country. But the Woman 
I am to see to-morrow? Is she the Image? I shall 
know in the first moment of our encounter. If she is, 
all is well for me — for her it will be just a question of 
her dower of heavenly venturousness. If she is not — in 
my humble judgment, you, Ambrose Caverly, having 
put the thing with so excessive a prettiness, shall for 
your art's sake perish — ^you must, in short, if you would 
end this thing in the manner (creditable to yourself, 
Ambrose I) in which it has hitherto been conducted, 
willy-nilly, hot or cold, confirmed in divine dreams or 
slapped in the face by disenchanting fact — within a 
brief space of time, propose marriage to this lady. If 
there be any other course, the gods send me scent of it 
this night ! But if she should refuse ? Reckon not on 
that. For the more she fall short of her Image, the 
more will she grasp at an outward showing of triumph 
— and the greatest outward triumph would not be in 
refusal. 

*' In my human weakness I wish that — just for once 
— I had seen her ! But in the strong spirit of the wine 
of life — whereof I have been and am an inveterate and 
most incurable bibber — I rejoice in that wonderful 
moment of mine to-morrow — when the door of the 
shrine opens, and I see the goddess before whom my 
offering must be laid. Be she giant or dwarf, be she 
black or white, have she hair or none — by the powers, 
if she wears a sack only, and is well advised to stick 
close to that, lest casting it should be a change for the 
worse — in any event the offering must be made. Even 



96 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



so the Prince in the tales, making his vows to the Beast 
and not yet knowing if his spell shall transform it to 
the Beauty ! In my stronger moments, so would I have 
it. Years of life shall I live in that moment to-morrow ! 
If it end ill, no human being but myself shall know. If 
it end well, the world is not great enough to hold, nor 
the music of its spheres melodious enough to sound, my 
triumph ! " 

It will be observed that Lord Lynborough, though 
indeed no novice in the cruel and tender passion, was 
appreciably excited on the Eve of the Feast of St John 
Baptist. In view of so handsome a response, the 
Marchesa's kiss of the hand and her murmured " To- 
morrow " may pass excused of forwardness. 

It was, nevertheless, a gentleman to all seeming most 
cool and calm who presented himself at the doors of 
Nab Grange at eleven fifty-five the next morning. His 
Ambassadors had come in magnificence; humbly he 
walked — and not by Beach Path, since his homage was 
not yet paid — but round by the far-stretching road and 
up the main avenue most decorously. Stabb and 
Roger had cut across by the path — holding the Mar- 
chesa's leave and licence so to do — and had joined an 
excited group which sat on chairs under sheltering trees. 

" I wish she hadn't made the audience private !" said 
Norah MountlifTey. 

" If ever a keyhole were justifiable " sighed Violet 

Dufaure. 

"My dear, I'd box your ears myself," Miss Gilletson 
brusquely interrupted. 

The Marchesa sat in a high arm-chair, upholstered in 
tarnished fading gold. The sun from the window shone 
on her hair ; her face was half in shadow. She rested 
her head on her left hand ; the right lay on her knee. 
It was stripped of any ring — unadorned white. Her 
cheeks were pale — the olive reigned unchallenged ; her 
lips were set tight, her eyes downcast. She made no 
movement when Lord Lynborough entered. 



HELENA'S PATH 97 

He bowed low, but said nothing. He stood opposite 
to her some two yards away. The clock ticked. It 
wanted still a minute before noon struck. That was 
the minute of which Lynborough had raved and 
dreamed the night before. He had the fruit of it in 
full measure. 

The first stroke of twelve rang silvery from the clock. 
Lynborough advanced and fell upon his knee. She did 
not lift her eyes, but slowly raised her hand from her 
knee. He placed his hand under it, pressing it a little 
upwards and bowing his head to meet it half-way in its 
ascent She felt his lips lightly brush the skin. His 
homage for Beach Path and his right therein was duly 
paid. 

Slowly he rose to his feet; slowly her eyes turned 
upwards to his face. It was ablaze with a great 
triumph; the fire seemed to spread to her cheeks. 

" It's better than I dreamed or hoped," he murmured. 

"What? To have peace between us? Yes, ifs 
good." 

" I have never seen your face before." She made no 
answer. " Nor you mine ? " he asked. 

" Once on Sandy Nab you passed by me. You didn't 
notice me — but, yes, I saw you." Her eyes were steadily 
on him now ; the flush had ceased to deepen, nay, had 
receded, but abode still, tingeing the olive of her cheeks. 

" I have rendered my homage," he said. 

" It is accepted." Suddenly tears sprang to her eyes, 
"And you might have been so cruel to me!" she 
whispered. 

" To you ? To you who carry the power of a world 
in your face ? " 

The Marchesa was confused — as was, perhaps, hardly 
unnatural. 

" There are other things, besides gates and walls, and 
Norah's head, that you jump over. Lord Lynborough." 

" I lived a life while I stood waiting for the clock to 
strike. I have tried for life before — in that minute I 






98 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE ^ 

found it" He s^med suddenly to awake as though 
from a dream. " But I beg your pardon. I have paid 
my dues. The bond gives me no right to linger." 

She rose with a light laugh — yet it sound^ nervous. 
" Is it good-bye till next St John Baptist's day ? " 

"You would see me walking on Beach Path day. 
day." 

" I never call it Beach Path." 

" May it now be called — Helena's ? " 

" Or will you stay and lunch with me to-day ? 
you might even pay homage again — say to-morrow — or 
— or some day in the week." 

" Lunch, most certainly. That commits me to nothing. 
Homage, Marchesa, is quite another matter." 

" Your chivalry is turning to bargaining, Lord 
Lynborough." 

" It was never anything else," he answered. " Hom- 
age is rendered in payment — that's why one says 
'Whereas.'" His keen eager eyes of hazel raised once 
more the flood of subdued crimson in her face. " For 
every recognition of a right of mine, I will pay you 
homage according to the form prescribed for St John 
Baptist's Feast" 

" Of what other rights do you ask recognition ?'* 

"There might be the right of welcoming you at 
Scarsmoor to-morrow?" 

She made him a little curtsey. " It is accorded — on 
the prescribed terms, my lord." 

"That will do for the twenty-fifth. There might be 
the right of escorting you home from Scarsmoor by the 
path called — Helena's?" 

"On the prescribed terms it is your lordship's." 

" What then of the right to see you daily, and day by 
day?" 

" If your leisure serves, my lord. I will endeavour to 
adjust mine— so long as we both remain at Filfby. But 
so that the homage is paid I " 

" But if you go away ? " 



HELENA'S PATH 99 

** I'm bound to tell you of my whereabouts only on 
St John Baptist's Feast." 

" The right to know it on other days — ^would that be 
recognised in return for a homage, Marchesa?" 

" One homage for so many letters ? " 

" I had sooner there were no letters — and daily 
homages." 

" You take too many obligations — and too lightly." 

" For every one I gain the recognition of a right" 

" The richer you grow in rights then, the harder you 
must work ! " 

'' I would have so many rights accorded me as to be 
no better than a slave ! " cried Lynborough. " Yet, if I 
have not one, still I have nothing." 

She spoke no word, but looked at him long and 
searchingly. She was not nervous now, but proud. 
Her look bade him weigh words; they had passed 
beyond the borders of merriment, beyond the bandying 
of challenges. Yet her eyes carried no prohibition ; it 
was a warning only. She interposed no conventional 
check, no plea for time. She laid on him the respon- 
sibility for his speech ; let him remember that he owed 
her homage. 

They grew curious and restless on the lawn ; the 
private audience lasted long, the homage took much 
time in paying. 

"A marvellous thing has come to me," said Lyn- 
borough, speaking slower than his wont, " and with it a 
great courage. I have seen my dream. This morning 
I came here not knowing whether I should see it. I 
don't speak of the face of my dream-image only, 
though I could speak till next St John's Day upon that. 
I speak to a soul. I think our souls have known one 
another longer, ay, and better than our faces." 

" Yes, I think it is so," she said quietly. " Yet who 
can tell so soon ? " 

^ There's a great gladness upon me because my dream 
came true." 



loo TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

"Who can tell so soon?" she asked again. "I^s 
strange to speak of it" 

" It may be that some day — ^yes, some day soon — in 
return for the homage of my lips on your hand, I would 
ask the recognition of my lips' right on your cheek." 

She came up to him and laid her hand on his arm. 
" Suffer me a little while, my lord," she said. " You've 
swept into my life like a whirlwind ; you would carry 
me by assault as though I were a rebellious city. Am I 
to be won before ever I am wooed ? " 

"You sha'n't lack wooing," he said quickly. "Yet 
haven't I wooed you already — as well in my quarrel as 
in my homage, in our strife as in the end of it?" 

" I think so, yes. Yet suffer me a little still." 

" If you doubt " he cried. 

"I don't think I doubt I linger." She gave her 
hand into his. '' It's strange, but I cannot doubt" 

Lynborongh sank again upon his knee and paid his 
homage. As he rose, she bent ever so slightly towards 
him ; delicately he kissed her cheek. 

" I pray you," she whispered, " use gently what you 
took with that." 

" Here's a heart to my heart, and a spirit to my spirit 
— and a glad venture to us both ! " 

" Come on to the lawn now, but tell them nothing." 

" Save that I have paid my homage, and received the 
recognition of my right ? " 

"That, if you will — and that your path is to be — 
henceforward — Helena's." 

" I hope to have no need to travel far on the Feast of 
St John ! " cried Lynborough. 

They went out on the lawn. Nothing was asked, and 
nothing told, that day. In truth there appeared to be 
no need. For it seems as though Love were not always 
invisible, nor the twang of his bow so faint as to elude 
the ear. With joyous blood his glad wounds are red, 
and who will may tell the sufferers. Sympathy too 
lends insight; your fellow-sufferer knows your plight 



HELENA'S PATH 



lOI 



first. There were fellow-sufTerers on the lawn that day 
— to whom, as to all good lovers, here's Godspeed ! 

She went with him in the afternoon through the 
gardens, over the sunk fence, across the meadows, till 
they came to the path. On it they walked together. 

" So is your right recognised, my lord," she said. 

"We will walk together on Helena's Path," he 
answered, "until it leads us — still together — to the 
Boundless Sea." 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 



I 

T^HE Great Ones of the Earth do not come our way 
^ much down at Southam Parva. Our Member's wife 
is an " Honourable," and most of us, in referring to her, 
make express mention of that rank ; moreover she 
comes very seldom. In the main our lot lies among 
the undistinguished, and our table of precedence is 
employed in determining the dividing lines between 
" Esquire," " Mr," and plain " John Jones " — a humble, 
though no doubt a subtle, inquiry into the gradations 
of Society. So I must confess to feeling a thrill when 
I read Mrs Thistleton's invitation to dinner at the 
Manor. Thistleton is lord of the manor — by purchase, 
not by inheritance — and lives in the old house, proceed- 
ing every day to town, where he has a fine practice as a 
solicitor (Bowes, Thistleton, & Kent) in Lincoln's Inn 
Fields. Mrs Thistleton and the children (there are 
eight, ranging from Tom, nineteen, to Molly, seven, so 
that the practice needs to be fine), are, however, quite 
country folk. Indeed, Mrs Thistleton comes of a county 
family — in a county situated, I must not say judiciously 
but perhaps luckily, at the other end of England from 
ours; distance prevents cavil in such matters, and, 
practically speaking, Mrs Thistleton can say what she 
pleases about her parental stock, besides exhibiting 
some highly respectable coat-of-armoured silver to back 
her discreet vaunts. Mrs Thistleton is always discreet ; 
indeed, she is, in my opinion, a woman of considerable 
talent, and the way in which she dealt with the Princess 

loa 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 103 

— ^with the problem of the Princess — confirmed the idea 
I had of her. 

The mention of the Princess brings me back to the 
card of invitation, though I must add, in a minor 
digression, that the Thistletons are the only people in 
Southam Parva who employ printed cards of invitation 
— the rest of us would not get through a hundred in a 
lifetime, and therefore write notes. The invitation card, 
then, sent to me by Mrs Thistleton was headed as 
follows : — " To have the honour of meeting Her Royal 
Highness the Princess Vera of Boravia." Subsequent 
knowledge taught me that the "Royal'' was an em- 
bellishment of Mrs Thistleton's — justifiable for aught I 
know, since the Princess had legitimate pretensions to 
the throne, though her immediate line was not at this 
time in occupation of it — but never employed by the 
Princess herself However, I think Mrs Thistleton was 
quite right to do the thing handsomely, and I should 
have gone even without the " Royal," so there was no 
real deception. All of us who were invited went : the 
Rector and his wife, ths Doctor and his wife, old Mrs 
Marsfold (the Major-General had, unfortunately, died 
the year before). Miss Dunlop (of the Elms), and Charley 
Miles (of the Stock Exchange). 

From what I have said already it will be evident that 
I am no authority, yet I feel safe in declaring that 
never was etiquette more elaborately observed at any 
party — I don't care where. One of Thistleton's clients 
was old Lord Ogleferry, and at Lord Ogleferry's he had 
once met a real princess (I apologise to Princess Vera 
for stumbling, in my insular way, into this invidious 
distinction, but, after all, Boravia is not a first-class 
Power). Everything that Lord and Lady Ogleferry had 
done and caused to be done for the real — the British — 
princess, Thistleton and Mrs Thistleton did and caused 
to be done for Princess Vera; uncomfortable things 
some of them seemed to me to be, but Thistleton, over 
the wine after dinner, told us that they were perfectly 



I04 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE ^H 

correct. He also threw light on the Princess's visit. 
She had come to him as a client, wishing him to recover 
for her, not, as Charley Miles flippantly whispered to 
me, the throne of Boravia by force of arms, but a con- 
siderable private fortune at present impounded — or 
sequestrated, as Thislleton preferred to call it — by the 
de faclo monarch of Boravia. "It's the case of the 
Orleans Princes over again," Thistleton observed, as he 
plied a dignified toothpick in such decent obscurity as 
his napkin afTorded. This parallel with the Orleans 
Princes impressed us much — without, perhaps, illumin- 
ating all of us in an equal degree; and we felt that 
Charley betrayed a mercantile attitude of mind when he 
asked briefly — 

"What's the figure?" 

"Upwards of two million francs," answered Thistleton, 

I think we all wished we had pencil and paper ; the 
Rector scribbled on the menu — I saw him do it — and 
got the translation approximately accurate. Imagina- 
tion was left to play with the " upwards." 

"How much would you take for it — cash?" asked 
sceptical Charley, 

" The matter is hardly as simple as that," said Thistle- 
ton, with a slight frown ; and he added gravely : " We 
mustn't stay here any longer." 

So we went upstairs, where Her Royal Highness sat 
in state, and we all had a word with her. She spoke 
just a little English, with a pretty, outlandish accent, 
but was not at all at home in the language. When my 
turn came — and it came last — I ventured to reply to her 
first question in French, which I daresay was a gross 
breach of etiquette. None the less, she was visibly 
relieved; indeed she smiled for the first time and 
chatted away for a few minutes quite merrily. Then 
Thistleton terminated my audience. He used precisely 
this expression. "I'm afraid I must terminate your 
audience," he said. Against any less impressive formula 
I might have rebelled ; because 1 liked the Princess. 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 105 

And what was she like? Very small, very slight, 
about half the size of bouncing Bessie Thistleton, though 
Bessie was not yet seventeen, and the Princess, as I 
suppose, nineteen or twenty. Her face was pale, rather 
thin, a pretty oval in shape ; her nose was a trifle turned 
up, she had plentiful black hair and large dark eyes. 
In fact, she was a pretty timid little lady, sadly 
frightened of us all, and most of all of Mrs Thistleton. 
I don't wonder at that; Tm rather frightened of 
Mrs Thistleton myself. 

Before I went, I tried to get some more information 
out of my hostess, but mystery reigned. Mrs Thistle- 
ton would not tell me how the Princess had come to 
put her affairs in Thistleton's hands, who had sent her 
to him, or how he was supposed to be going to get two 
million francs out of the de facto King of Bora via. All 
she said was that Her Royal Highness had graciously 
consented to pay them a visit of a very few days. 

" Very few days indeed," she repeated impressively. 

" Of course," I nodded with a sagacious air. Probably 
Her Royal Highness was due at Windsor the day after 
to-morrow ; at any rate, that was the sort of impression 
Mrs Thistleton gave. 

" I wonder if the money's genuine ! " said Charley 
Miles as we walked home. 

" Is she genuine herself? " I asked. 

" Well, there's a girl corresponding to her description, 
anyhow. I went to the club to-day and looked her up. 
Ought to be Queen, too, if she 'ad 'er rights. (Here he 
was quoting). Oh yes, she's all correct. But I wouldn't 
care to say as much for the fortune. Wonder if old 
Thistleton's taken it up on commission I " 

" I hope she'll get it. I liked the little thing, didn't 
you, Charley ? " 

He cocked his hat rather more on one side and 
smiled ; he is a good-natured young man, and no fool 
in his own business. " Yes, I did," he answered. " And 
what the dickens must she have thought of us ? " 



io6 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



I couldn't reply to that, though 1 entertained the 
private opinion that I, at least, had made a good 
impression- 

So much for the introduction of the Princess. And 
now comes, of necessity, a gap in my story ; for the 
next day I went to Switzerland on my annual holiday, 
and was absent from Southam Parva for two full 
months. Not seeing the English papers during most 
of that period, I was unable to learn whether Her 
Koyal Highness Princess Vera of Boravia had pro- 
ceeded from the Manor House, Southam Parva, to the 
Castle, Windsor, or anywhere else. 



II 



■own, I 



She had not, as a fact — and a fact which came to i _ 
knowledge even before I reached my own threshold. I 
stepped into the train at Liverpool Street, fat, brown, 
and still knickerbockered. Inonecorner of the carriage 
sat Thistleton, in another Charley Miles. "^ 

" Not seen you for a day or two, old chap," said 1 
latter genially. 

I nodded and sat down opposite Thistleton, whff 
welcomed my reappearance in a few well-chosen words. 
I reciprocated his civility with inquiries after his family, 
and finally, before taking up my paper, I added — 

"And your distinguished visitor? The charming 
Princess ? Have you any news of her ? " 

At the same moment I happened to catch Charley's 
eye. It was cocked at me in a distinctly satirical 
manner. For an instant I feared that the Princess had 
rim off with the spoons, or annexed Mrs Thistleton's 
garnets (we all knew them) to enrich the Boravian 
diadem. But after the briefest pause — which was a 
pause, all the same — Thistleton answered— 

"She is still with us, and very well indeed, th ank 
you." 




MRS TfflSTLETON^ PRINCESS 107 

He cleared his throat, opened The Globe^ and said no 
more. Charley's eye drew me with an irresistible 
attraction ; it was still cocked at me over the top of the 
Evining News. But he made no remark, so I fell back 
on my own organ of opinion, and silence was unbroken 
until we had passed the station immediately before 
Beechington — we alight (as the Company puts it) at 
Beechington for Southam Farva. Then, when there 
were just three minutes left, Thistleton glanced at 
Charley, saw that he was busy with his paper (the 
"racing" corner unless Pm mistaken), leant forward, 
and tapped my knee with his gold ey^lasses. I started 
slightly and accorded him my attention. There seemed 
to be a little embarrassment in his manner. 

" By the way, Tr^askis," he said, " you remember I 
told you that I was engaged on certain— er — delicate 
n^otiations on behalf of our guest ? " 

I nodded. "About Her Royal Highness's private 
fortune ? " 

He nodded. "They involve," he proceeded, "ap- 
proaches to the present King in — er — an amicable spirit 
— more or less amicable. We have thought it well that 
for the present — provisionally and without prejudice — 
Her Highness should employ a designation to which 
her claim is absolutely beyond dispute. By a disuse — 
temporary, perhaps — of her proper style, she may 
smooth certain — er — susceptibilities, and so render my 
task easier and give us a better prospect of success. 
Our guest now prefers to be known as the Countess 
Vera von Friedenburg." 

I nodded again — it was the only safe thing to do. 
Thistleton said no more, save to express a hope (as he 
got into his waggonette) that they would see me soon at 
the Manor. Charley and I started together to walk the 
long mile from Beechington Station to Southam Farva ; 
the cart was to bring my luggage. We had covered 
some half of the distance when Charley pushed his hat 
well over his left ear and ejaculated — 



io8 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" Rum go, ain't it, Treg ? What do you make of it ? " 

" Her being still here, you mean ? " 

" Yes ; and the business about her name. For a fort- 
night she was Her Royal Highness. Then she was Her 
Highness for three weeks. And for the last three she's 
been Countess Vera von Friedenburg ! " 

" Thistleton gave what appeared to me an admirable 
reason." 

"I don't believe he'll get a sou, not if he offered to 
endorse the cheque ' Sarah Smith.' Is it likely they'd 
part?" By "they," I understood him to mean the 
Court of Boravia, 

" I'm sorry for her, then." 

" So am I, and for old Thistleton too. He's out of 
pocket, I expect, besides losing his comm. And there 
she is ! " 

"The Princess?" 

" The Countess, you mean." His smile was sardonic. 

" Yes, there she is," I agreed, not very hopefully 
however. 

" Rum go ! " he added, just as he had begun, and then 
fell to whistling the ditty of the hour. He made only 
one more remark, and that fell from him just as we 
parted. 

"Ta-ta, Treg," said he, "Old Thistles (he had an 
objectionable habit of abbreviating names) has got a 
tidy practice ; but there are a good many mouths to 
fill, eh? And no comm.! Ta-ta!" 

Was it really as bad as that? The thought made me 
uncomfortable. Poor girl ! The title that had filled 
our mouths would not fill hers. And her descent in 
rank had been remarkable and rapid. Her fall in 
public esteem had, as I soon found, kept pace with it. 
The word as to her style of address had gone round. 
She was "Countess Vera" now. Mrs Marsfold said: 
" Poor Countess Vera." Miss Dunlop's accent was less 
charitable : " Susan Thistleton's Countess" was hq 
form of expression, and beneath it lay an undoubfl 



is hM^ 
3Ubt^9 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 109 

sneer at the Princess's pretensions. Boravia, too, was 
spoken of with scant respect. "Really a barbarous 
place, Vm told/' said the Rector. '* They call their kings 

kings ; but of course 1 " He shrugged his shoulders, 

without, however, indicating what title the Boravians 
might, in accordance with British standards, appropriate 
to the person who had the doubtful good fortune of 
ruling over them. In fact, they — and I don't know that 
I am altogether entitled to except myself — all felt a 
little hot when they remembered the high-mightiness of 
that dinner-party. 

I took advantage of Thistleton's kind intimation and 
called on his wife. It was a fine autumn afternoon, 
and while we sat in the drawing-room and talked, I 
looked through the open windows on to the lawn. 
Countess Vera sat there, surrounded by the four 
youngest Thistleton children — Gladys, Myra, Molly, 
and the boy Evanstone (Mrs Thistleton was a Miss 
Evanstone). The Countess and the children all held 
books in their hands, and snatches of the French tongue 
fell on my ear from time to time. 

"It's really very perplexing," said Mrs Thistleton, 
" and it's difficult to do the right thing. I'm sure you 
credit us with wanting to do the right thing, Mr 
Tregaskis ? " 

" I'm sure you'd do the right and the kind thing." 

" The money she brought over is quite exhausted. Mr 
Thistleton has spent a considerable sum in getting up 
her case and presenting it to the Boravian Court. His 
eflforts meet with no attention — indeed with absolute 
contempt." 

" They're not afraid of her ? " 

" Not in the least. And here she is — literally without 
a farthing ! And hardly a gown to her back — at least, 

hardly one suitable for " She broke off, ending: 

"But what do you know about gowns?" 

" Rather a remarkable situation for a princess 1 " 

"If she would let us beg for her, even I The Govern- 



no TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

ment might do something. But she won't hear of it. 
Then she says she'll go. Where to? What can she 
do? If she won't beg, she'd starve. We can't let her 

starve, can we? But times aren't good, and Oh, 

well. I must give you some tea. Would you mind 
ringing?" 

1 obeyed. Merry laughs came from the children on 
the lawn. 

" The kids seem to like her," said I, for want of better 
consolation. 

" She's very nice to them. She's helping them with 
their French." She caught me looking at her and 
blushed a little. 1 had not seen Mrs Thistleton blush 
before. Suddenly the plan came before my eyes. 
There was no need to blush for it ; it seemed to me 
rather great — rather great, perhaps, on both sides, but 
greater on Mrs Thistleton's. "It gives her a sense of 
—of doing something in return, I suppose," Mrs 
Thistleton went on. 

The maid brought in tea. 

"Is nursery tea ready?" Mrs Thistleton asked. 

"Yes, ma'am." 

" Then send the children upstairs and tell 
Countess that tea is here." 

"Yes, ma'am." 

Soon the Countess came— as small, as slight, as dal 
as ever, even more timid. I rose as she entered ; she 
bowed nervously, and, going to the table, busied herself 
with making the tea. Mrs Thistleton lay back in her 
arm-chair. 

"Sit down, Mr Tregaskis," she said, "You like 
making tea for us, don't you, Countess?" 

"Yes, Mrs Thistleton, thank you," said Countess 
Vera von Fried en burg. 

But I didn't sit down — 1 couldn't do it I leant 
against the table and looked an ass all the time she 
made tea. 



] 



J 



MRS TfflSTLETON'S PRINCESS iii 



III 

The next chapter, or division, or what you will, of this 
small history may be very short. I write it with two 
objects, which seem to me to justify its appearance, in 
spite of its fragmentary character. In the first place, 
it serves to exhibit the final stage of the descent of the 
Princess — the logical conclusion of the process which 
was begun when Thistleton dropped '* Royal" from 
between "Her" and "Highness" in the train from 
Liverpool Street to Beechington. In the second place, 
it exhibits Mrs Thistleton's good sense and fine feeling 
for the suitability of things. You couldn't have prin- 
cesses — nay, nor countesses — about the house in that 
sort of position. It would have been absurd. 

So here it is. I seldom give even small dinner- 
parties; such gatherings annoy my cook. But about 
a month after my return, I got leave to have four or five 
friends, and I bade to my board the Rector and his wife 
and Mr and Mrs Thistleton. If for no other reason 
than to " balance," I said in my note to Mrs Thistleton 
that I should be exceedingly pleased if Countess Vera 
von Friedenburg would do me the honour of accom- 

rmying them. Perhaps that was a mistake in taste, 
meant no harm, and I don't think that Mrs Thistleton 
intended to rebuke me; though she did, I imagine, 
mean to convey to me a necessary intimation. 

" Dear Mr Tregaskis," she wrote, " Mr Thistleton 
and I are delighted to accept your very kind invitation, 
and we shall be charmed, as always, to meet our dear 
Rector and Mrs Carr. I am told to thank you very 
sincerely for your kind invitation to our young friend, 
but Fraulein Friedenburg agrees with me in thinking 
that during my absence she had better stay with the 
children. Yours very sincerely, 

"Susan Thistleton." 



112 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Fraulein Friedenburg I Even her particle — her last 
particle — of nobility gone ! Fraulein Friedenburg I 

Her Royal Highness 1 Let us forget — let us and 

all Southam Parva forget! 

It was not unkind of Mrs Thistleton. It was right 
and suitable. Who should not come out to dinner, but 
stay and mind the children? Who save Fraulein — 
Fraulein Friedenburg? It would have been a Eudirrous 
position for Her Royal Highness Princess Vera of 
Boravia. Leave it to Fraulein Friedenburg! 

So, as Fraulein Friedenburg, she passed into our 
ordinary lives, and out of our ordinary thoughts, as 
is the way with things when they become ^miliar. 
Mrs Thistleton's courage and talent had saved the 
situation — and her own face. The Princess was for- 
gotten, and the Thistlctons' nursery governess little 
heeded. Who does heed a nursery governess much? 

But one night, as I turned over the atlas looking for 
something else, I came on the map of Boravia and saw 
the city of Friedenburg set astride the great river, 
dominating the kingdom, a sentinel at the outposts of 
Western Europe. If Divine Right were not out of 
fashion, the key of that citadel should have been in the 
hand which ruled exercise-books for the Thistleton 
children, For a few moments after that I went on 
thinking about the nursery governess. 



m 

So Fraulein — she soon came to be called just" Fraulein" 
— was not at my dinner-party ; but two or three weeks 
later I had a little talk with her. I went up to the 
Manor one afternoon in October, seeking a game of 
croquet with Bessie Thistleton — such are our mild 
delights at Southam Parva — but found the whole family 
gone off to a Primrose League bazaar at Beechington. 
Only Fraulein was at home, said the parlour-maid ; and 



MRS TfflSTLETON'S PRINCESS m 

Fraulein was visible in the garden, sitting under a 
tree, turning over the leaves of a big book. I used the 
privilege of a friend of the house, strolled out on to the 
lawn, and raised my hat to the^ — I mean to Fraulein. 
She smiled brightly and beckoned to me to come and 
sit by her ; her words were beyond reproach, but her 

festures were sometimes obstinately un-Frauleinish, if 
may so express myself. I sat down in the other 
deck-chair and said that it was very fine for so late in 
the year. 

She made no reply and, raising my eyes to her face, I 
found her looking at me with an unmistakable gleam of 
amusement. 

" Do you think this very funny ? " she asked. 

** I think it's deplorable,'' I answered promptly. 

" It's very simple. I owe Mr Thistleton two hundred 
pounds. I do this till I have worked it off." 

" How many years ? " 

" 3everal, monsieur." 

•» And after that ? " 

" The children will grow up." 

" Yes. And then ? " 

"Mrs Thistleton will give Fraulein Friedenburg a 
good character." 

" Meanwhile you work for nothing ? " 

" No. For clothes, for food, to pay my debt" 

" And how do you like it ? " 

That question of mine, which sounds brutal, was 
inspired and, as I still believe, excused by the satirical 
amusement in her eyes ; our previous meetings had 
shown me no such expression. Her answer to the 
question had its irony too. She turned over a dozen 
pages of the big book and came on a picture. She held 
the book out to me, saying — 

" Thaf s my home." 

I looked at the picture of her home, the great grim 
castle towering aloft on the river bank. A few centuries 
ago the Turks had fallen back beaten from before these 

H 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



glanced round Mrs Thistlel 
answered my question," I said. 



giant walls. Then 
gentle trim old gard< 

" I think y( 

She closed the book, with a shrug of her thin little 
shoulders, and sat silent for a moment. The oval of 
her face was certainly beautiful, and the thick masses 
of her hair were dark as night, or the inside of a 
dungeon in her castle of Friedenburg. (I liked to think 
of her having dungeons, though I really don't know 
whether she had.) 

" And is it for ever?" I asked. 

She leant over towards me and whispered: "They 
know where I am," An intense excitement seemed to 
be fighting against the calm she imposed on herself; 
but it lasted only a moment. The next instant she fell 
back in her chair with a sigh of dejection ; a listless 
despair spread over her face ; the satirical gleam illumi- 
nated no more the depths of her eyes. The veil 
had fallen over the Princess again. Only Fraulein 
sat beside me. 

Then 1 made a fool of myself. 

"Are there no men in Boravia?" 1 asked in a 
voice. 

This at Southam Parva, in the twentieth century, 
and to the governess ! Moreover, from rac, who have 
always been an advanced Liberal in politics, and hold 
that the Boravians are at entire liberty to change the 
line of succession, or to set 'up a republic if they be so 
disposed ! None the less, in the Thistletons' garden 
that afternoon, I did ask Fraulein whether there 
men in Boravia. 

She answered the question in the words she had 
before. 

" They know where I am," she said, but now languidly 
with half-closed eyes. 

That I might be saved from further folly, from offering 
my strong right arm and all my worldly goods (I was 
at the moment overdrawn at the bank) as a contribution 



ilein . 

ury, 
lave 
liold 
. the 

t>e so 
irden I 

m 



A 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 



towards a Legitimist crusade in Boravia — Fortune sent 
interruption. The family came back from the bazaar, 
and most of them trooped into the garden. Charley 
Miles was with them, having joined the party at the 
fite on his way back from town. As they all came up 
Fraulein put the big book — with its picture of her home 
— behind her back ; 1 rose and walked forward to greet 
Mrs Thistieton. In an instant Charley, passing me 
with a careless " Hallo, Tregl" had seated himself by 
Fraulein and begun to talk to her with great vivacity 
and every appearance of pleasure — indeed of admira- 
tion. 

I joined Mrs ThisUeton — and Bessie, who stood 
beside her mother. Bessie was frowning ; that frown 
was to me the first announcement of a new situation. 
Bessie was grown up now, or so held herself, and she 
and CharJey were great friends. Charley was doing 
remarkably well on the Stock Exchange, making 
his three or four thousand a year; I remembered that 
Thistieton had thrown out a conjecture to that effect 
in conversation with me once. As the father of a family 
of eight, Thistieton could not neglect such a circum- 
stance. And Charley was a good-looking fellow- The 
frown on Miss Bessie's brow set all this train of thought 
moving in my mind. The fact that, the next moment. 
Miss Bessie swung round and marched off into the house 
served to accelerate it.s progress. 

Mrs Thistieton cast a glance at the couple under the 
tree — Charley Miles and Fraulein — and then suggested 
that I should go with her and see the chrysanthemums. 
We went to see the chrysanthemums accordingly, but I 
think we were both too preoccupied to appreciate them 
properly. 

" It's a very difficult position in some ways," said Mrs 
Thistieton suddenly. 

It was so difficult as to be almost impossible. I paid 
upliment with absolute sincerity. "You've 
; the difficulties wonderfully," I remarked. 



1 



^my com pi I 
^Htercome t} 



J 



ii6 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



never admired your tact more. Nobody thinks of her 
at all now, except just as Fraulein." 

" I have been anxious to do the right thing, and she 
has improved the children's French." She did not add 
that the liquidation of Thistleton's bill by services 
rendered was a further benefit We cannot be expected 
always to remember every aspect of our conduct 

" But it is difficult," Mrs Thistleton went on. '* And 
the worst of it is that Bessie and she aren't very con- 
genial. With an ordinary governess Well, the 

only thing is to treat her like one, isn't iti*" 

" Does she object ? " 

"Oh no, never. But I can't quite make her out 
After all, she's not English, you see, and one can't be 
sure of her moral influence. I sometimes think I must 
make a change. Oh, I shouldn't do anything unkind. 
I should ask her to stay till she was suited, and, of 
course, do all I could to recommend her. But Bessie 
doesn't like her, I'm sorry to say." 

By this time we had walked past all the chrysani 
mums twice, and I said that it was time for me to 
Mrs Thistleton gave me her hand. 

" You don't think me unkind ? " 

"Honestly, I think you have been kind all througl 
and 1 don't think you'll be unkind now. The situation 
is so very " 

" Difficult ? Yes," she sighed. 

I bad been going to say " absurd," but I accepted 
"difficult" I would have accepted anything, because 
1 wanted to end the conversation and get away. 1 was 
surfeited with incongruities — Mrs Thistleton, Bessie, 
Charley Miles, and, above all, Fraulein — set in contrast 
with the picture in the big book — with the castle of 
Friedenburg frowning above the great river, waiting for 
its mistress, Princess Vera ; the mistress who came not 
because — I couldn't get away from my own folly — 
because there were no men in Boravial "Absurd." 
was the right word, however. 



P 

"go; 



J 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 117 



The next few weeks developed the situation along the 
lines I had foreseen, but endowed it with a new wealth 
of irony, so that it became harder than ever to say 
whether we were dealing with tragedy or with farce. 
The women of the village took arms against Fraulein. 
Mrs Marsfold, Miss Dunlop (of the Elms), even the 
Rector's gentle wife, became partisans of Bessie Thistle- 
ton and demanded the expulsion of Fraulein. Only 
Mrs Thistleton hei'self still resisted, still sought after 
the kind thing, still tried to reconcile the interests of 
her family with the duty she had undertaken towards 
the stranger within her gates. But even she grew 
weaker. They were all against her, and Bessie had 
the preponderating word with her father now. In fine, 
there was every prospect that, even as the Princess 
Vera was banished from Boravia, so Fraulein Frieden- 
burg would be expelled from Southam Farva. 

And why? She had designs on Charley Miles! 
That was the accusation ; and it was also, and immedi- 
ately, the verdict. She wanted to catch Charley Miles 
— and that three or four thousand a year which, by 
plausible conjecture, he was making on the Stock Ex- 
change I The Princess was now utterly forgotten — she 
might never have existed. There was only the design- 
ing governess, forgetful of her duty and her station, 
flying at game too high for her, at the most eligible 
match in the village, at the suitor (the destined suitor) 
of her employer's daughter, at prosperous Charley 
Miles of the Stock Exchange I The human mind is 
highly adaptable, and the relativity of things is great 
These two conclusions were strongly impressed on my 
mind by the history of Fraulein Friedenburg's sojourn 
in the village of Southam Parva. 

Charley had the instincts of a gentleman and was 
furious with " the old cats," as he called the ladies I 




TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

have named, with a warmth which for my part I find it 
easy to pardon. Yet his mind was as their minds ; he 
was no whit less deeply and firmly rooted in present 
facts. He may have been a little afraid of Bessie, 
perhaps in a very little committed to her by previous 
attentions. But that was not the main difficulty. That 
he was in love with Fraulein I believed then and believe 
now ; indeed, he came very near to admitting the fact 
to me on more than one occasion. But he was a young 
man of social ambitions, and the Thistletons stood high 
among us. {I began by admitting that we do not 
dwell on the highest peaks.) Mr Thistleton's daughter 
was one thing, Mr Thistleton's governess another. That 
was Charley's point of view, so that he wrestled with 
erring inclination and overthrew it. He did not offer 
marriage to Fraulein Friedenburg. He contented him- 
self with denouncing the attempt to banish her, for 
which, after all, his own conduct was primarily re- 
sponsible. But I found no time to blame him ; he 
filled me with a wonder which became no less over- 
whelming because, in regard to present facts, it was in 
a large measure unreasonable. In truth, I couldn't 
stand firm on present facts. The walls, the towers, 
the dungeons of Friedenburg, and the broad river run- 
ning down below — these [things would not leave the 
visions of my mind. They stood in obstinate contrast 
to Charley Miles and three or four thousand on the 
Stock Exchange, 

One evening — it was a Monday, as I remember — 
Charley came to see me after dinner, and brought with 
him a copy of The Mortiing Post, an excellent paper, 
but one which, owing to the political convictions to 
which I have already referred in connection with my 
feelings about the lack of men in Boravia, I do not 
take in. He pointed to a spot in the advertisement 
columns, and, without removing his hat from his head 
or his cigar from his mouth, sank into my 
chair. 




neaa i 

] 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 119 

^Mrs Thistles has paid for six insertions, Treg/' 
he said. 

I read the first *' insertion/' 

^ A lady strongly recommends her German nursery 
governess. Good English. Fluent French. Music. 
Fond of children. Salary very moderate. A good 
home principal object Well-connected. — Mrs T., The 
Manor House, Southam Parva." 

Well-connected ! I looked over to Charley with 
some sort of a smile. " The good English is, of course, 
all right ? " I said. 

"Isn't it an infernal shame?" he broke out. "She 
won't stay a week after that ! " 

" It may bring an engagement," said I. 

" Look here, do you think it's my fault ? " 

" I'm glad she says Fraulein is well-connected." 

"Do you think it's my fault? I — I've tried to play 
square — by her as well as by myself" 

" I don't think we need discuss the Princess." 

" Hallo, Treg I " 

"Good heavens! — I — I beg pardon I I mean — ^why 
need we talk about Fraulein's affairs ? " 

" I was talking about mine." 

" I see no connection." 

He was not angry with me, though (as will have 
been seen) I had lost my temper hopelessly and 
disastrously. He got up and stood in front of the 
fire. 

" I hadn't the pluck, Treg, my boy," he said. His 
voice sounded rather dreary, but I had no leisure to 
pity him. 

"Good Heavens, do you suppose she'd have looked 
at you ? " I cried. " Remember who she is I " 

"That's all very well, but facts are facts," said 
Charley Miles. " I didn't mean to make trouble, Treg, 
old boy. On my honour, I didn't." He made a long 



I20 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

pause. " I hope I shall be asking you to congratul 
mc soon, Treg," he went on. 

" Ask rac in public, and I'll do it" 

"That's just being vicious," he complained, and with 
entire justice. " Bessie's a first-rate girl." 

" I'm very sorry, Charley, So she is. She'll suit 
you a mile belter than — than Frauiein." 

He brightened up. " I'm awfully glad you do think 
me right in the end," he said. "But I'm a bit sorry 
for Frauiein. She'd have had to go soon, anyhow — 
when the children got a bit older. She'll get a berth, 
I expect." 

"No doubt," said I. "And I'll congratulate you 
even in private, Charley." 

" You're a decent old chap, but you've got a queer 
temper. I don't above half understand you, Treg." 
He hesitated a little. "I say, you might go and have 
a talk with Frauiein some day. She likes you, you 
know." 

" Does she ? " The eager words leapt from my lij 
before I could stop them. 

" Rather ! Will you go ? " 

" Yes. I'll have a talk with Frauiein. 

" Before she goes?" 

" She'll go soon ? " 

" 1 think so." 

" Yes, before she goes, Charley." 

With that, or, rather, after a little idle talk which 
added nothing to that, he left me — left mc wondering 
.itill. He was sorry for Frauiein, and not only because 
■he must go forth into the world - also because she 
had not been invited to become Mrs Charley Miles 1 
He conceived that he had made a conquest, and he 
didn't value it I His mistake of fact was great, but it 
Khrank to nothing before the immensity of his blunder 
In eatimation. I could account for it only in one way 
— « Wfty .10 pleasing to my own vanity that I adopted 
It forthwith. And I'm not sure I was wrong. 



;s you, you 
om my li^^^l 

4 

talk which ' 



"^ 



MRS THISTLETON'S PRINCESS 121 

veil had not been lifted for him, and he had no eyes 
to see through it For me it had been raised once, and 
henceforth eternally hung transparent. 

" That's my home." She had looked in that moment 
as if no other place could be. 

Now, however, she was advertising for a situation, 
and I speculated as to how much of the truth Mrs 
Thistleton would deem it wise to employ in justifying 
that sublime ** Well-connected." 



VI 

I SAW her the next day but one— on the morning when 
the third 'insertion" appeared in The Morning Post. 
Bessie Thistleton had told me, with obvious annoyance, 
that there had been no replies yet. ^ Governesses are 
really a drug, unless they have a degree, in these days," 
she had said. ** * Where is she ? ' Oh, somewhere in the 
garden, I think, Mr Tregaskis." 

So I went into the garden and found her again under 
the tree. But her big book was not with her now ; she 
was sitting idle, looking straight ahead of her, with 
pondering and, perhaps, fear in her great dark eyes. 

She gave me her hand to shake. I kissed it. 

« Nobody will kiss my hand in my next place," she 
said. 

" Why in heaven do you do it ? " 

^ I can't beg ; and if I did, I don't think I should 
receive." She leant forward, resting her hand on the 
arm of the chair. " We don't know who I'm to be," 
she went on, smiling. ** Nobody but Mrs Thistleton 
could carry it off if I confessed to being myself I Who 
shall I be, Mr Tregaskis ? " 

I made no answer, and she gave a little laugh. 

" You like to go ? " I asked. 

^ No. I'm frightened. And suppose there's another 
Mr Miles ? " 



122 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" The infernal idiot ! " 

" He's wise. Only — I'm amused. They're right to 
send me away, though. I'm such an absurdity." 

"Yes," I assented mournfully. " I'm afraid you are." 

She leant nearer still to me, half whispering in her 
talk. " I should never have liked him, but yet it 
hardly seemed strange that he should think of it. I'm 
forgetting myself, I think. In my next place I wonder 
if I shall remember at all !" 

" You have your book and the picture." 

"Yes, but they seem dim now. I suppose it would 
be best to forget, as everybody else does," 

" Not everybody," I said very low. 

"No, you don't forget. I've noticed that. It's foolish, 
but I like someone to remember. Suppose you forgot 
too ! " 

One of her rare smiles lit up her face, But I did 
not tell her what would happen if I forgot too. I knew 
very well in my own mind, though. I was not tram- 
melled by previous attentions, nor was I making t 
or four thousand a year. 

"You'll tell me when you go — and where?" I asla 

" Yes, if you like to know," 

" And will ' they ' know too ? " 

She looked at me with searching eyes. " Are you 
laughing ? " she asked, and it seemed to me that there 
was a break in her voice. 

"God forbid, madam I " said I, 

*' Ah, but I think you should be. How the present 
can make the past ridiculous I " 

"Neither the past ridiculous nor the future im- 
possible," 1 said. 

She laid her hand on my arm for a moment with 
a gentle pressure. 

'• We have an Order at home called The Knights 
of Faith. Shall I send you the Cross some day— ' 
that impossible future?" 

" No. Send me your big book, with the ptctui 



1 



MRS TfflSTLETON'S PRINCESS 123 

the great castle and the broad river flowing by its 
base." 

She looked at me a moment, flushed but the slightest, 
and answered : *' Yes." Then, as I remember, we sat 
silent for a while. 

That silence was waste of time, as it proved. For, 
before it ended, Mrs Thistleton came bounding (really 
the expression is excusable in view of her unrestrained 
elation) out of the house, holding a letter in her hand. 

" Fraulein, an answer ! " she cried. 

We both rose, and she came up to us. 

" And it sounds most suitable. I do hope you don't 
mind London — though really it doesn't do to be fussy. 
A Mrs Perkyns, on Maida Hill — nice and high ! Only 

two little children, and she offers Oh, well, we 

can talk about the salary presently." 

That last remark constituted an evident hint to me. 
I grasped my hat and gave my hand to Mrs Thistleton. 

" Good news, isn't it ? " said she. " And Mrs Perkyns 
says she has such confidence in me — it appears she 
knew my sister Mary at Cheltenham — that she waives 
any other references. Isn't that convenient ? " 

"Very," I agreed. 

" You're to go the day after to-morrow if you can 
be ready. Can you ? " asked Mrs Thistleton. 

" I can be ready," Fraulein said. 

"In the morning, Mrs Perkyns suggested." 

" I can be ready in the morning." Then she turned 
to me. "This is good-bye, then, I'm afraid, Mr 
Tr^askis." 

"I shall come and see you off," said I, taking her 
hand. 

Mrs Thistleton raised her brows for a moment, but 
her words were gracious. 

" We shall all be down to wish her a good journey 
and a happy home." 

I made up my mind to say my farewell at the station 
—and I took my leave. As I walked out of the front 



124 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



gate I met Thistleton coming from the station. I took 
upon myself to tell him the news, 

"Good," said Thistleton. "It ends what was always 
a false, and has become an impossible, situation." 

How about poor Mrs Perkyns, then? But I did not 
put that point to him. She was forewarned by that 
"WclI-connectcd." As ! walked home I pictured 
Thistleton putting up a board before his residence: 
" Princesses, beware I " 



Vll 



m^^n 



It was no use telling me — as the Rector had told 
more than once — that the same sort of thing had hap- 
pened before in history, that a French marquis of the 
old rigime was at least as good as a Boravian princess, 
and that if the one had taught dancing as an imigri 
the other might teach French verbs in her banishment. 
The consideration was no doubt just, and even assuaged 
to some degree the absurdity of the situation — since 
absurd things that have happened before seem rather 
less absurd somehow — but it did not console my feel- 
ings, nor reconcile my imagination to Mrs Perkyns of 
Maida Hill, "nice and high" though Maida Hill might 
be. On the morning of Fraulein's departure I rose out 
of temper with the world. 

Then I opened the morning paper, and there it was! 
In a moment it seemed neither strange nor unexpected. 
It was bound to be there some morning. It chanced to 
be there this morning by happy fortune, because this 
was the last morning in which I could help, the last 
morning when I could see her eyes. But it was 
glorious, I am afraid it sent me half mad ; yet I was 
very practical. In a minute I had made up my mind 
what she would want to do and what I could do. In 
another five minutes I was on my bicycle. " scorching " 
to Beechington with that paper in one pocket, andi"! 



MRS THKTLETON'S PRINCESS 125 

a cheque on the local branch of the London and County 
Bank in the other. And humming in my ears was " Ris- 
ing in Boravia ! " '' Rumoured Atxiication of the King I " 
"An Appeal to the Pretender I" Then, in smaller 
print : *' Something about Princess Vera of Friedenburg." 

I hoped she would get away before the Thistletons 
knew I Very likely she would, for by now Thistleton 
was in the train for town, and he picked up his Times 
at the station ; the family waited for it till tlie evening. 

From the bank I raced to the station, and reached it 
ten minutes before her train was due to leave Beeching- 
ton. There she was, sitting on a bench, all alone. She 
was dressed in plain black and looked very small and 
forlorn. She seemed deep in thought, and she did not 
see me till I was close to her. Then she looked up with 
a start I suppose she read my face, for she smiled, 
held out her hand, and said — 

** Yes, I had a telegram late last night" 

"You've told them?" I jerked my thumb in the 
direction of the Manor. 

" No," she said rather brusquely. 

" You're going, of course ? " 

"To Mrs Perkyns*," she answered, smiling still. 
" What else can I do ? " 

" Wire them that you're starting for Vienna, and that 
they must communicate with you there. Ah, there are 
men in Boravia I " 

"And Mrs Perkyns? I should never get another 
character I " 

" You'll go, surely ? It might make all the diflference. 
Let them see you, let them see you I " 

She shook her head, giving at the same time a short 
nervous laugh. I sat down by her. Her purse lay in 
her lap.. I took it up ; the Princess made no movement ; 
her eyes were fixed on mine. I opened the purse and 
slipped in the notes I had procured at the bank. Her 
eyes did not forbid me. I snapped the purse to and 
laid it down again. 



126 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"I had a third-class to London, and eight shillings 
and threepence," she said. 

" You'll go now?" 

" Yes," she whispered, rising to her feet. 

We stood side by side now, waiting for the train. It 
was very hard to speak. Presently she passed her hand 
through my arm and ict it rest there. She said no more 
about the money, which I was glad of. Not that I was 
thinking much of that. I was still rather mad, and my 
thoughts were full of one insane idea ; it was — though I 
am ashamed to write it — that just as the train was 
starting, at the last moment, at the moment of her 
going, she might say: "Come with me." 

"Did it surprise you?" I said at last, breaking the 
silence at the cost of asking a very stupid question. 

" I had given up all hope. Yet somehow I wasn't 
very surprised. You were ? " 

" No. I had always believed in it." 

" Not at first ? " 

" No ; of late." 

She looked away from me now, but I saw her 
curve in a reluctant little smile. I laughed. 

" I don't think my ideas about it had any particul; 
relation to external facts," I confessed. " I had become 
a Legitimist, and Legitimists are always allowed to 
dream." 

She gave my arm a little pat and then drew her hand 
gently away. 

" If it all comes to nothing, I shall have one friend 
stilt," she said. 

" And one faithful hopeful adherent. And there's 
your train." 

When 1 put her in the carnage, my madness came 
back to me. I actually watched her eyes as though to 
see the invitation 1 waited for take its birth there. Of 
course I saw no such thing. But I seemed to see a 
great friendliness for mc. At the last, when 
pressed her hand and then shut the door, I whispei 



I tne 
a sn't I 

■ lipTl 

cular 

come I 



I h.A I 



MRS TfflSTLETON'S PRINCESS 127 

" Arc you afraid ? " 

She smiled. " No. Boravia isn't Southam Parva. I 
am not afraid." 

Then*-well» she went away. 



VIII 

Mrs Thistleton is great. I said so before, and I 
remain firmly of that opinion. The last time I called at 
the Manor, I found her in the drawing-room with Molly, 
the youngest daughter, a pretty and intelligent child. 
After some conversation, Mrs Thistleton said to me — 

** A little while ago I had an idea, which my husband 
thought so graceful that he insisted on carrying it out 
I wonder if you'll like it ! I should really like to show 
it to you." 

I expressed a polite interest and a proper desire to 
see it, whatever it was. 

^ Then Til take you upstairs," said she, rising with a 
gracious smile. 

Upstairs we went, accompanied by Molly, who is 
rather a friend of mine and who was hanging on to my 
arm. Reaching the first floor, we turned to the left, 
and Mrs Thistleton ushered me into an exceedingly 
pleasant and handsome bedroom, with a delightful view 
of the garden. Not conceiving that I could be privileged 
to view Mrs Thistleton's own chamber, I concluded that 
this desirable apartment must be the best or principal 
guest-room of the house. 

" There ! " said Mrs Thistleton, pointing with her finger 
towards the mantelpiece. 

Advancing in that direction, I perceived, affixed to 
the wall over the mantelpiece, a small gilt frame, 
elaborately wrought and ornamented with a Royal 
Crown. Enclosed in the frame, and protected by glass, 
was a square of parchment, illuminated in blue and gold 
letters. I read the inscription : 



128 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

This Room was Occupied by Her Majesty the Queen of 
Boravia on the Occasion of Her Visit to the Manor 
House^ Southam Parva^ 

27th offune^ 1902. 

'' It's a very pretty idea, indeed ! I congratulate you 
on it, Mrs Thistleton/' said I. 

'' I do like it ; and ' the Queen's Room ' sounds such 
a nice name for it" 

^ Charming I " I declared. 

" Why didn't you put one in the little room upstairs 
too— the room she slept in all the last part of the time, 
mamma?" asked Molly. 

Well, well, children will make these mistakes. I 
think it was very creditable to Mrs Thistleton that she 
merely told Molly to think before she spoke, in which 
case (Mrs Thistleton intimated) she would not ask such 
a lai^e number of foolish questions. 

So Mrs Thistleton has a very pleasant memento of 
her Princess. I have one of her too — a big book, with 
a picture of the great castle and the broad river flowing 
below. And in the beginning of the book is written : 
" To him who did not forget— Vera." 

The description still applies. 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 

HTHE affair had three obvious results: the marriage 
-^ of Prince Julian, Sir Henry Shum's baronetcy, and 
the complete renovation of Lady Craigennoch's town 
house. Its other eflfects, if any, were more obscure. 

By accident of birth and of political events Prince 
Julian was a Pretender, one of several gentlemen who 
occupied that position in regard to the throne of an 
important European country : by a necessity of their 
natures Messrs Shum & Byers were financiers : thanks 
to a fall in rents and a taste for speculation Lady 
Craigennoch was hard put to it for money and had 
become a good friend and ally of Mr Shum ; some- 
times he allowed her to put a finger into one of his pies 
and draw out a little plum for herself Byers, hearing 
one day of his partner's acquaintance with Lady 
Craigennoch, observed, "She might introduce us to 
Prince Julian." Shum asked no questions, but obeyed ; 
that was the way to be comfortable and to grow rich 
if you were Mr Byers* partner. The introduction was 
duly effected ; the Prince wondered vaguely, almost 
ruefully, what these men expected to get out of him. 
Byers asked himself quite as dolefully whether any- 
thing could be made out of an indolent, artistic, lazy 
young man like the Prince ; Pretenders such as he 
served only to buttress existing Governments. 

" Yes," agreed Shum. " Besides, he's entangled with 
that woman." 

" Is there a woman ? " asked Byers. " I should like 
to know her." 

So, on his second visit to Palace Gate, Mr Byers was 
introduced to the lady who was an inmate in Prince 

I 129 



I30 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Julian's house, but was not received in society. Lady 
Craigennoch however, opining, justly enough, that since 
she had no girls she might know whom she pleased, 
had called on the lady and was on friendly terras with 
her. The lady was named Mrs Rivers, and was under- 
stood to be a widow. "And surely one needn't ask 
for his death certificate!" pleaded Lady Craigennoch. 
Byers. as he took tea in Mrs Rivers' boudoir, was quite 
of the same mind. He nursed his square chin in his 
lean hand, and regarded his hostess with marked at- 
tention. She was handsome ; that fact concerned Byers 
very little ; she was also magnificently self-confident ; 
this trait roused his interest in a moment. He came 
to see her more than once again ; for now an idea had 
begun to shape itself in his brain. He mentioned it to 
nobody, least of all to Mrs Rivers, But one day she 
said to him, with the careless contempt that he admired, 

"If I had all your money, I should do something 
with it." 

"Don't I?" he asked, half-tiking, half-resenting her 
manner. 

" Oh, you make more money with it, 1 suppose." 

She paused for a moment, and then, leaning forward, 
began to discuss European politics, with especial refer- 
ence to the condition of affairs in Prince Juh'an's country, 
Byers listened in silence; she told him much that he 
knew, a few things which had escaped him. She told 
him also one thing which he did not believe — that 
Prince Julian's indolent airs covered a character of rare 
resolution and tenacity. She repeated this twice, there- 
by betraying that she was not sure her first statement 
had carried conviction. Then she showed that the 
existing Government in the Prince's country was weak, 
divided, unpopular, and poor; and then she ran over 
the list of rival Pretenders, and proved how deficient all 
of them were in the qualities necessary to gain or keep 
a throne. At this point she stopped, and asked Mr 
Byers to take a second cup of tea. He looked at her 



H THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 

with interest and amusement in his shrewd eyes ; she 
had all the genius, the native power, with none of the 
training, none of the knowledge of men. He read her 
so easily ; but there was a good deal to read. In one 
point, however, he read her wrongly; almost the only 
mistakes he made were due to forgetting the possible 
existence of unselfish emotion. 

Prince Julian had plenty of imagination ; without 
any difHculty he imagined himself regaining his an- 
cestral throne, sitting on it in majesty, and establishing 
it in power. This vision Mrs Rivers called up before 
his receptive mind by detailing her conversation with 
Mr Byers, "You want nothing but money to do it," 
she said. And Byers had money in great heaps ; Shum 
had it too, and Shum was for present purposes Byers ; 
so were a number of other persons, all with money. 
" 1 believe the people are devoted to me in their hearts," 
said Prince Julian ; then he caught Mrs Rivers by both 
her hands and cried, " And then you shall be my 
Queen ! " 

" Indeed I won't," said she ; and she added almost 
fiercely, "Why do you bring that up again now? It 
would spoil it all." For, contrary to what the world 
thought, Prince Julian had offered several times to 
marry the lady who was not received nor visited 
(except, of course, by Lady Craigennoch). Stranger 
still, this marriage was the thing which the Prince 
desired above all things, for, failing it, he feared that 
some day {owing to a conscience and other considera- 
tions) Mrs Rivers would leave him, and he really did 
not know what he should do then. When he imagined 
himself on his ancestral throne. Mrs Rivers was always 
very near at hand ; whether actually on the throne 
beside him or just behind it was a point which he was 
prone to shirk ; at any cost, though, she must be very 
near. 

As time went on there were many meetings at Palace 

tte; the Prince, Mr Shum, and Lady Craigennoch 



'3^ 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



were present sometimes ; Mrs Rivers and Byers were 
never wanting. The Prince's imagination was im- 
mensely stimulated in those days ; Lady Craigennoch's 
love for a speculation was splendidly indulged ; Mr 
Shum's cautious disposition received terrible shocks. 
Mrs Rivers discussed European politics, the attitude of 
the Church, and the secret quarrels of the Cabinet in 
Prince Julian's country; and Byers silently gathered 
together all the money of his own and other people's on 
which he could lay hands He was meditating a great 
coiip\ and just now and then he felt a queer touch of 
remorse when he reflected that his coup was so very 
different from the coup to which Mrs Rivers' disquisi- 
tions and the Prince's vivid imagination invited him. 
But he believed in the survival of the fittest; and, 
although Mrs Rivers was very fit, he himself was just 
by a little bit fitter still. Meanwhile the Government 
in the Prince's country faced its many difficulties with 
much boldness, and seemed on the whole safe enough. 

The birth and attributes of Rumour have often en- 
gaged the attention of poets ; who can doubt that their 
rhetoric would have been embellished and their meta- 
phors multiplied had they possessed more intimate 
acquaintance with the places where money is bought 
and sold? For in respect of awakening widespread 
interest and affecting the happiness of homes, what is 
the character of any lady, however high-born, con- 
spicuous, or beautiful, compared with the character of a 
Stock? Here indeed is a field for calumny, for in- 
nuendo, for hints of frailty, for whispers of intrigue ; 
the scandalmongers have their turn to serve, and the 
holders are swift to distrust. When somebody writes 
Sheridan's comedy anew, let him lay the scene of it in a 
Bourse ; between his slandered Stock and his slandered 
dame he may work out a very pretty and fanciful 
parallel. 

Here, however, the facts can be set down only plainly 
and prosaically. On all the Exchanges there aro: 



4 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 133 

feeling of uneasiness respecting the Stock of the 
Government of Prince Julian's country; selling was 
going on, not in large blocks, but cautiously, continu- 
ally, in unending dribblets ; surely on a system and with 
a purpose? Then came paragraphs in the papers (like 
whispers behind fans), discussing the state of the 
Government and the country much in the vein which 
had marked Mrs Rivers' dissertations. By now the 
Stock was down three points; by pure luck it fell 
another, in mysterious sympathy with the South 
African mining market Next there was a riot in a 
provincial town in the Prince's country ; then a Minister 
resigned and made a damaging statement in the 
Chamber. Upon this it seemed no more than natural 
that attention should be turned to Prince Julian, his 
habits, his entouragey his visitors. And now there were 
visitors ; nobles and gentlemen crossed the Channel to 
see him ; they came stealthily, yet not so secretly but 
that there was a paragraph ; these great folk had heard 
the rumours, and hope had revived in their breasts. 
They talked to Mrs Rivers; Mrs Rivers had talked 
previously to Mr Byers. A day later a weekly paper, 
which possessed good, and claimed universal, informa- 
tion, announced that great activity reigned among Prince 
Julian's party, and that His Royal Highness was con- 
sidering the desirability of issuing a Manifesto. " Certain 
ulterior steps," the writer continued, "are in contem- 
plation, but of these it would be premature to speak." 
There was not very much in all this, but it made the 
friends of the Stock rather uncomfortable ; and they 
were no more happy when a leading article in a leading 
paper demonstrated beyond possibility of cavil that 
Prince Julian had a fair chance of success, but that, if 
he regained the throne, he could look to hold it only by 
seeking glory in an aggressive attitude towards his 
neighbours. On the appearance of this luminous fore- 
cast the poor Stock fell two points more: there had 
been a sauve qui pent of the timid holders. 



■ 34 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



4 



I 



Then actually came the Manifesto; and it was ad- 
mitted on all hands to be such an excellent Manifesto 
as to amount to an event of importance. Whoever had 
drawn it up — and this question was never settled — 
knew how to lay his 6ngcr on all the weak spots of the 
existing Government, how to touch on the glories of 
Prince Julian's House, what tone to adopt on vexed 
questions, how to rouse the enthusiasm of all the dis- 
contented. " Given that the Prince's party possess the 
necessary resources," observed the same leading journal, 
"it cannot be denied that the situation has assumed an 
aapect of gravity." And the poor Stock fell yet a little 
more; upon which Mr Shum, who had a liking for 
taking a profit when he saw it, ventured to ask his 
partner how long he meant " to keep it up." 

" We'll talk about that to-morrow," said Mr Byers. 
" I'm going to call in Palace Gate this afternoon." He 
looked very thoughtful as he brushed his hat and sent 
for a hansom. But, as he drove along, his brow cleared 
and he smiled triumphantly. If the Prince's party had 
not the necessary resources they could do nothing ; if 
they did nothing, would not the drooping Stock lift up 
her head again ? Now nobody was in a position to 
solve that problem about the necessary resources so 
surely or so swiftly as Mr Byers. 

A hundred yards from Prince Julian's house he saw 
Lady Craigennoch walking along the pavement, and 
got out of his cab to join her. She was full of the visit 
she had just paid, above all of Ellen Rivers. 

" Because she's the whole thing, you know," she said. 
" The adherents — good gracious, what helpless creatures ! 
] don't wonder the Republicans upset them if that's 
what they're all like. Oh, they're gentlemen, of course, 
and you re not, Byers"— (Mr Byers bowed slightly 
and smiled acquiescently)— "but I'd rather have you 
than a thousand of them, And the Prince, poor dear, 
[i hardly better. Always talking of what he'll do wImj^ 
he'll there, never thinking how he's going to get ther^^| 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 135 

Byers let her run on; she was giving him both 
instruction and amusement. 

" And then he's afraid — oh, not of the bullets or the 
guillotine or whatever it is — because he's a gentleman 
too, you know. (Or perhaps you don't know! I 
wonder if you do ? Shum doesn't ; perhaps you do.) 
But he's afraid of losing her. If he goes, she won't go 
with him. I don't mean as — as she is now, you know. 
She won't go anyhow, not as his wife even. Well, of 
course, if he married her he'd wreck the whole thing. 
But one would hardly expect her to see that ; or even 
to care, if she did. She's very odd." Lady Craigennoch 
paused a moment '' She's fond of him too," she added. 
" She's a very queer woman." 

** A lady ? " asked Mr Byers with a touch of satire. 

"Oh yes," said Lady Craigennoch, scornful that he 
needed to ask. "But so odd. Well, you've seen her 
with him — ^just like a mother with her pet boy I How 
hard she's worked, to be sure I She told me how she'd 
got him to sig^ the what's-its-name. He almost cried, 
because he'd have to go without her, you know. But 
she says it's all right now ; he won't go back now, because 
he's given his word. And she's simply triumphant, 
though she's fond of him, and though she won't go with 
him." Again Lady Craigennoch paused. "People 
won't call on that woman, you know," she remarked 
after her pause. Then she added, "Of course that's 
right, except for a reprobate like me. But still '* 

" She's an interesting woman," said Byers in a per- 
functory sympathy with his companion's enthusiasm. 

Lady Craigennoch cooled down, and fixed a cold and 
penetrating glance on him. 

"Yes, and you're an interesting man," she said. 
"What are you doing, Mr Byers?" 

" Vindicating Right Divine," he answered. 

Lady Craigennoch smiled. "Well, whatever it is," 
she said, " Shum has promised that I shall stand in." 
Again she paused. " Only," she resumed, " if you're 



H^ V^U£S or TWO PEOPLE 

mrtllnC « ^hail«f ihM woaun " She seemed unable 

V6 iKtiA lAw wmmix ; tbetv hitd been genuine indigna- 
VfM A W ^}«i tar m nioawol ; it faded away ; but there 
4UM • a^Sfct flitsli on her chocks »s she added, " But 
^ImiS #MM't VMRer if it's in the way of business, does it ? " 

"And Sham hu ptvtnised that you shall stand in," 
lh<m twmndod Iwr (lawly. 

L«4y Ol%Miaodt dug ber parasol into the streak of 
•M^ tMt «llMNd bt fUtt cn pavement and curbstone. 

* AlUf^hW I'm plwJ I called on her," she said. " I'm 
fto* mucK Heaven knows, but 1 'm a woman to speak to." 

" To c»}- tof " he hazarded. 

"How 'do y-ou know she cried? Think what she'd 
been through, poor thing! Oh, you won't find her 
crying." 

" I hope not," said Mr Byers with a. perfect serious- 
ness In his slightly nasal tones ; and when they parted 
he said to himself, " That woman hates having to know 
me." But there were many people in that position ; 
and he spent much time in increasing the number; so 
the reflection caused him no pain, but rather a sense 
of lelf-complacency ; when people know you who hate 
hnvlilg to know you, you are somebody. The thought 
pained, iind the next moment he found himself being 
glKd that Kllen Rivers had a woman to speak to — or to 
cry tu — even though it were only Lady Craigennoch. 

She wa« not crying when she received Mr Byers. 
She wai radiant. 5lie told him that her part was done ; 
now he mu«t do his part ; then the Prince would do his ■. 
thui the (freat enterprise would be accomplished. That 
odd pang struck Byers again as he listened ; he recol- 
lected the beginning of Lady Craigennoch's unfinished 

sentence, " If you're making a fool of that woman " 

That was just what he was doing. He escaped from 
the thought and gratified his curiosity by turning I' 
talk to Mrs Rivers herself. 

"Accomplished, eh?" said he, "And it's i 
for the Prince I " 



urning the 

s a crown | 

J 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 137 

" Yes, and great influence for you." 

" And you'll be " 

'' I shall be nothing. I shall go away." She spoke 
quickly and decisively; the resolution was there, but 
to dwell on it was dangerous. 

" Where to ? " he asked. 

" Oh, I don't know. Anywhere." 

" Back to your people ? " 

She looked at him for a moment. He had allowed 
himself to sneer. Her manner, as she went on without 
taking any notice of his question, proved that Lady 
Craigennoch had been right in saying that she was a 
lady. 

" My work will be done," she said. " From the first 
moment I knew the Prince I determined to use my 
influence in this way. He only — ^he only needed a little 
encouragement" 

** And a little money ? " 

" I gave him one, you're giving him the other. We 
shall both be repaid by his success." 

" You're a very strange woman," he said. Probably 
he did not know how straight and hard his eyes were 
set on her ; they could not leave her. What a pity it 
was that she would not go with the Prince—as his wife, 
or even (to use Lady Craigennoch's charitably evasive 
phrase) as she was now. To set the Prince on the seat 
of his ancestors was not an exploit that appealed to 
Mr Byers; but to set this woman on a throne would 
be worth — well, how much? Mr Byers detected this 
question in his own heart ; he could not help reducing 
things to figures. " Why don't you go with him ? " he 
asked bluntly. 

"It would prejudice him," she answered simply, 
folding her hands in her lap. 

Then she stretched out a hand towards him and said 
suddenly, with a sudden quiver in her voice, " I talk to 
you like this, and all the time I'm wanting to go down on 
my knees and kiss your hands, because you're doing this." 



'38 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



The lean hand held the square jaw ; the attitude was 
a favourite one with Mr Byers; and his eyes were still 
on her. 

" Yes, that's what 1 want to do," she said with a 
nervous laugh. " It's so splendid of you." Her breath 
came fast ; her eyes were very bright. At that moment 
Mr Byers wished that the quick breath and the bright 
eyes were for him himself, not for the helper of the 
Prince ; and for that moment he forgot Mrs Byers 
and the babies in Portland Place ; it was years since he 
had had any such wish about any woman ; he felt 
a sympathy with Prince Julian, who had almost cried 
when he signed the Manifesto, because, if he mounted 
the throne, Ellen Rivers would leave him. 

" We want money now, directly," she went on. " We 
want the Manifesto in every house. I can manage the 
distribution. And we must pay people — bribe them. 
We must sow seed. It'll soon come up. And the 
Prince will act at the proper time," 

" How much do you want now ? " he asked. 

" Half-a-million now, and another next month," 
she said. 

" And more before the end ? " 

" Yes, most likely. You can get it, you know." 

" And shall I ever get it back ? " 

" The Prince has given his word." Mr Byers assumed 
a doubtful air. " Oh, you're not as stupid as that ; you 
believe him," she added almost contemptuously. " Do 
you mean it's a speculation ? Of course it is. I thought 
you had courage!" 

" So I have," said Byers. And he added, " I may 
want it all too." What he would want it for was in his 
mind, but he did not tell her. 

He thought a great deal about the matter that evening 
as he sat by the fire opposite to Mrs Byers, who knitted 
a stocking and said nothing ; she never broke in upon 
his thoughts, believing that a careless interruption 
might cost a million. Millions were in his mind now, 



■ THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 

and other things than millions. There was his faith 
with bis associates ; they were all waiting his word ; 
when he gave it, rumours would die away, reports be 
contradicted, the Manifesto pooh-poohed ; there would 
be buyings, the Stock would lift up her head again, 
confidence would revive ; and the first to buy, the first 
to return to faith in the Stock, would be Mr Byers and 
his associates ; the public would come in afterwards, 
and when the public came in he and his associates 
would go out again, richer by vast sums. The money 
and bis good faith — his honour among financiers — 
bound him ; and the triumph of his brains, the beauty 
of his coup, the admiration of his fellows, the unwilling 
applause of the hard-hit — all these allured him mightily. 
On the other side there was nothing except the necessity 
of disappointing Mrs Rivers, of telling her that the 
necessary resources were not forthcoming, that the 
agitation and the Manifesto had served their turn, that 
the Prince had been made a fool of, that she herself had 
been made a fool of too. Many such a revelation had 
he made to defeated opponents, calmly. jestingly perhaps, 
between the puffs of his cigar, not minding what they 
thought. Why should he mind what Mrs Rivers 
thought? She would no longer wish to kiss that lean 
strong hand of his; she might cry (she had Lady 
Craigennoch to cry to). He looked across at his wife 
who was knitting ; he would not have minded telling 
anything to her. But so intensely did he mind telling 
what he had to tell to Ellen Rivers that the millions, 
bis good faith, the joy of winning, and the beauty of the 
eoup. all hung doubtful in the balance against the look 
in the eyes of the lady at Prince Julian's. " What an 
infernal fool I am I" he groaned. Mrs Byers glanced 
up for a moment, smiled sympathetically, and went on 
with her knitting ; she supposed that there must be 
some temporary hitch about the latest million ; or 
perhaps Shum had been troublesome ; that was some- 
times what was upsetting Mr Byers. 




TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



The next morniog Mr Sbum was troublesome; he 
thought that the moment for action had come; the 
poor Stock had been blown upon enough, the process 
of rehabilitation should begin. Various other gentle- 
men, weighty with money, dropped in with their hats 
on the back of their heads and expressed the same 
views. Byers fenced with them, discussed the question 
rather inconclusively, took now this side and now that, 
hesitated, vacillated, shilly-shallied. The men wondered 
at him; they knew they were right; and, right or 
wrong, Byers had been wont to know his own mind ; 
their money was at stake ; they looked at one another 
uncomfortably. Then the youngest of them, a fair boy, 
great at dances and late suppers, but with a brain for 
figures and a cool boldness which made him already 
rich and respected in the City, tilted his shining hat 
still further back and drawled out, " If you've lost your 
nerve, Byers, you'd better let somebody else engineer 
the thing." 

What her fair fame is to a proud woman the prestige 
of his nerve was to Mr Byers. The boy had spoken the 
decisive word, by chance, by the unerring instinct 
which in any sphere of thought is genius. In half-an- 
hour all was planned, the Government of the Prince's 
country saved, and the agitation at an end. The neces- 
sary resources would not be forthcoming; confidence 
would revive, the millions would be made, the coup 
brought off, the triumph won. 

So in the next fortnight it happened. Prince Julian 
looked on with vague bewilderment, reading the articles 
and paragraphs which told him that he had abandoned 
all thought of action, had resigned himself to wait for a 
spontaneous recall from his loving subjects (which might 
be expected to assail his ears on the Greek Kalends), 
that in fact he would do nothing. Mrs Rivers read the 
paragraphs too, and waited and waited and waited for 
the coming of Mr Byers and the necessary resources; 
she smiled at what she read, for she had confidencoj"^ 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 141 

the Cause, or at least in herself and in Mr Byers. But 
the days went on ; slowly the Stock rose ; then in went 
the public with a rush. The paragraphs and the articles 
dwindled and ceased; there was a commotion some- 
where else in Europe ; Prince Julian and his Manifesto 
were forgotten. What did it mean ? She wrote a note, 
asking Mr Byers to call. 

It was just at this time also that Mr Henry Shum 
accepted the invitation of the Conservative Association 
of the Hatton Garden Division of Holbom Bars to 
contest the seat at the approaching General Election, 
and that Lady Craigennoch gave orders for the complete 
renovation of her town house. Both these actions in- 
volved, of course, some expense ; how much it is hard 
to say precisely. The house was rather large, and the 
seat was very safe. 

Prince Julian sat in his library in Palace Gate and 
Mrs Rivers stood beside him, her hand resting on the 
arm of his chair. Now and then the Prince glanced up 
at her face rather timidly. They had agreed that 
matters showed no progress; then Mrs Rivers had 
become silent 

" Has Byers thrown us over ? " the Prince asked at 
last 

" Hush, hush," she answered in a low voice. " Wait 
till he's been; he's coming to-day." Her voice sank 
lower still as she whispered, " He can't have ; oh, he 
can't ! " 

There was silence again. A few minutes passed 
before the Prince broke out fretfully, " I'm sick of the 
whole thing. I'm very well as I am. If they want me, 
let them send for me. I can't force myself on them." 

She looked down for a moment and touched his hair 
with her hand. 

"If this has come to nothing I'll never try again. I 
don't like being made a fool of." 

Her hand rested a moment on his forehead ; he looked 
up, smiling. 



141 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"We can be happy together," he murmured. " Let's 
throw up the whole thing and be happy together," He 
caught her hand in his. " You'll stay with me any- 
how ? " 

" You want me still ? " 

" You'll do what I ask ? " he whispered, 

"That would put an end to it, indeed," she i 
smiling. 

" Thank Heaven for it I " he exclaimed peevishly. 

A servant came in and announced that Mr Byers was 
in the drawing-room. 

" Shall I come too ? " asked the Prince. 

"Oh no," she answered with a strange little laugh. 
" What's the use of bothering you ? I'll see him." 

" Make him say something definite," urged Prince 
Julian. " Let's have an end of it one way or the 
other." 

"Very well." She bent down and kissed him, and 
then went off to talk to Mr Byers. 

The fair boy with the business brains might have 
been seriously of opinion that there was something 
wrong with Byers' nerve had he seen him waiting for 
Mrs Rivers in the drawing-room, waiting to tell her 
that the necessary resources were not forthcoming ; he 
hoped that he need tell her no more than that; he 
wished that he had not come, but he could not endure 
the self-contempt which the thought of running away 
had brought with it ; he must face her ; the woman 
could do no more than abuse him. One other thought 
he had for a moment entertained— of offering to let her 
stand in, as Mr Shum had let Lady Craigennoch ; there 
was hardly any sum which he would not have been glad 
to give her. But long before he reached the house he 
had decided that she would not stand in. "By God, I 
should think not," he said to himselfindignantly. 

But he had one phrase ready for her. He reminded 
her of the paragraphs, the rumours, and the Manifesto. 
" We have by these means felt the pulse of the publ" 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 143 

he said. He paused, she said nothing. " The result is 
not— er-— encouraging," he went on. " The moment is 
not propitious." 

" You promised the money if the Prince signed the 
Manifesto," she said. 

" Promised ? Oh, well, I said Td- 



You promised," said Mrs Rivers. "What's the 
difficulty now?" 

•* The state of public feeling " he began. 

" I know that We want the money to change it 
She smiled slightly. "If the feeling had been with us 
already we shouldn't have wanted the money." She 
leant forward and asked, " Haven't you got the money ? 
You said you had." 

"Yes, I've got it— or I could get it." 

"Yes. Well then — ! Why have you changed your 
mind?" 

He made no answer, and for a while she sat looking 
at him thoughtfully. She did not abuse him, and she 
did not cry. 

"I want to understand," she said presently. "Did 
you ever mean to give us the money ? " 

"Yes, upon my honour I " 

" Are you sure? " She forced him to look her in the 
face; he was silent She rose, took a Japanese fan 
from a side table, and sat down again ; the lower part 
of her face was now hidden by the fan ; Byers saw 
nothing but her eyes. "What did you mean?" she 
asked. "You've made us all — the Prince, and his 
friends, and me — look very silly. How did that help 
you ? I don't see what you could get out of that" 

She was looking at him now as though she thought 
him mad ; she could not see what he had got out of it ; 
it had not yet crossed her mind that there had been 
money to be got out of it ; so ignorant was she, with all 
her shrewdness, with all her resolution. 

" And I understood that you were such a clever far- 
seeing man," she went on. " Lady Craigennoch always 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



told me so ; she said 1 could trust > 
tell me about it, Mr Byers," 



n anything. Do 

"I can't explain it to you," he began. "You — you 
wouldn't " 

"Yes, I should understand it if you told me," she 
insisted. 

If he told her he was a liar and a thief, she would 
understand. Probably she would. But he did not 
think that she would understand the transaction if he 
used any less plain language about it. And that 
language was not only hard to use to her, but struck 
strangely on his own head and his own heart Surely 
there must be other terms in which to describe his part 
in the transaction ? There were plenty such in the 
City ; were there none In Palace Gate ? 

"It's a matter of business " again he b«^an. 

She stopped him with an imperious wave of the fan. 
Her eyes grew animated with a sudden enlightenment; 
she looked at him for a moment or two, and then asked, 
" Have you been making money out of it somehow?" 
He did not answer. " How, please?" she asked. 

" What does that matter ? " His voice was low. 

" I should like to hear, please. You don't wanl 
tell me? But I want to know. It— it'll be useful'^ 
rae to understand things like this." 

It seemed to Mr Byers that he had to tell her, that 
this was the one thing left that he could do, the one 
obligation which he could perform. So he began to 
tell her, and as he told her, naturally (or curiously, 
since natures are curious) his pride in the great evufi 
revived — his professional pride. He went into it all 
thoroughly; she followed him very intelligently; he 
made her understand what an "option" was, what 
"differences," what the "put," and what the "call." 
He pointed out how the changes in public affairs might 
make welcome changes in private pockets, and would 
have her know that the secret centre of great movements 
must be sought in the Bourses, not in the Cabinets, of 



asKCO, 
ho w ? " I 




THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 



■45 






Europe ; perhaps he exaggerated here a little, as a man 
will in praising what he loves. Finally, carried away 
by enthusiasm, he gave her the means of guessing with 
fair accuracy the profit that he and his friends had made 
out of the transaction. Thus ending, he heaved a sigh 
of relief; she understood, and there had been no need 

those uncivil terms which lately had pressed them- 

vcs forward to the tip of his tongue so rudely. 

" I think I'd better not try to have anything more to do 
withpoIitics,"shesaid. "I — I'm too ignorant" Therewas 
a little break in her tones. Byers glanced at her sharply 
and apprehensively. Now that his story was ended, his 
enthusiasm died away ; he expected abuse now. Well, 
he would bear it ; she was entitled to relieve her mind. 

"What a fool I've been! How you must have been 
laughing at me — at my poor Prince and me!" She 
looked across to him, smiling faintly. He sat twisting 
his hat in his hands. Then she turned her eyes towards 
the fireplace, Byers had nothing to say ; he was wonder- 
ing whether he might go now. Glancing at her for 
permission, he saw that her clear bright eyes had grown 
dim ; presently a tear formed and rolled down her cheek. 
Then she began to sob, softly at first, presently with 
growing and rising passion. She seemed quite forgetful 
of him, heedless of what he thought and of how she 
looked. All that was in her, the pang of her dead 
hopes, the woe for her poor Prince, the bitter shame 
of her own crushed pride and helpless foliy, came out 
in her sobs as she abandoned herself to weeping. Byers 
sat by, listening always, looking sometimes. He tried 
to defend himself to himself; was it decent of her, was 
it becoming, wasn't it characteristic of the lack of self- 
control and self-respect that marks the sort of woman 
she was? It might be open to all these reproaches. 
She seemed not to care ; she cried on. He could not 
help looking at her now ; at last she saw him looking, 
and with a little stifled exclamation — whether of apology 
or of irritation he could not tell — she turned sideways 



- -^- 



1 



146 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



and hid her face in the cushions of the sofa. Byers 
rose slowly, almost unsteadily, to his feet. " My God ! " 
he whispered to himself, as he stood for a moment and 
looked at her. Then he walked over to where she lay, 
her head buried in the cushions. 

" It doesn't make all that diflference to you," he said 
roughly, "You wouldn't have gone with him." 

She turned her face to him for a moment. She did 
not look her best; how could she? But Mr Byers did 
not notice that. 

" I love him ; and I wanted to do it" 

Byers had "wanted to do it" too, and their desires 
had clashed. But in his desire there had been no alloy 
of love; it was all true metal, true metal of self. He 
stood over her for a minute without speaking. A strange 
feeling seized him then ; he had felt it once before with 
regard to this woman. 

" If it had been for you I'd have damned the itw 
and gone ahead,' he blurted out in an indistinct 
petuous utterance. 

Again she looked up ; there was no surprise, no 
resentment in her face, only a heart-breaking plaintive- 
ness. "Oh, why couldn't you be honest with me?" she 
moaned. But she stopped sobbing and sat straight on 
the sofa again, " You'll think me still more of a fool 
for doing this," she said. 

Was the abuse never coming ? Mr Byers began to 
long for it. If he were abused enough, he thought that 
he might be able to find something to say for himself. 

"You think that because — because I live as I do, I 
know the world and — and so on. I don't a bit. It 
doesn't follow really, you know. Fancy my thinking I 
could do anything for Julian I What do I know of 
business? Well, you've told me now!" 

" If it had been for you I'd have risked it and gone 
ahead," said Byers again. 

" I don't know what you mean by that," she murmured 
vaguely. Byers did not try to describe tc * 



range i 

with J 
:, no I 



THE NECESSARY RESOURCES 147 

strong impulse which had inspired his speech. " I must 
go and tell the Prince about it," she said. 

" What are you going to do ? " he demanded. 

" Do ? What is there to do ? Nothing, I suppose. 
What can we do ? " 

"I wish to God rd — I'd met a woman like you. 
Shall you marry him now ? " 

She looked up ; a faint smile appeared on her face. 

"Yes," she said. " It doesn't matter now ; and he'll 
like it. Yes, I'll marry him now." 

Two visions — one was of Mrs Byers and the babies in 
Portland Place — ^rose before Byers' thoughts. 

"He hasn't lost much then," he said. "And you? 
You'll be just as happy." 

" It was the whole world to me," said she, and for the 
last time she put her handkerchief to her eyes. Then 
she stowed it away in her pocket and looked expectantly 
at her visitor ; here was the permission to go. 

" Will you take the money ? " said he. 

" What money ? " 

" What I've made. My share of it." 

" Oh, don't be silly I What do I care what money 
you've made?" 

He spoke lower as he put his second question. 

" Will you forgive me ? " he asked. 

" Forgive you ? " She laughed a little, yet looked 
puzzled. " I don't think about you like that," she 
explained. " You're not a man to me." 

" You're a woman to me. What am I to you then ? " 

" I don't know. Things in general — the world — busi- 
ness — the truth about myself. Yes, you're the truth 
about myself to me." She laughed again, nervously, 
tentatively, almost appealingly, as though she wanted 
him to understand how he seemed to her. He drew in 
his breath and buttoned his coat. 

" And you're the truth about myself to me," he said. 
" And the truth is that I'm a damned scoundrel." 

" Are you ? " she asked, as it seemed half in surprise, 



148 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



half in indilTerence. "Oh, I suppose you're no worse 
than other people. Only I was such a fool. Good-bye, 
Mr Byers." She held out her hand. He had not meant 
to offer his. But he took hers and pressed it. He had 
a vague desire to tell her that he was not a type of all 
humanity, that other men were better than he was, that 
there were unselfish men, true men, men who did not 
make fools of women for money's sake ; yes, of women 
whose shoes they were not worthy to black. But he 
could not say anything of all this, and he left her with- 
out another word. And the next morning he bought 
the " call " of a big block of the Stock ; for the news of 
Prince Julian's marriage with Mrs Rivers would send it 
up a point or two. Habit is very strong. 

When he was gone, Mrs Rivers went upstairs to her 
room and bathed her face. Then she rejoined Prince 
Julian in the library. Weary of waiting, he had gone 
to sleep ; but he woke up and was rejoiced to see her. 
He listened to her story, called Mr Byers an infernal 
rogue, and, with an expression of relief on his face, said : 

" There's the end of that ! And now, darling ? " 

"Yes, I'll marry you now," she said. "It doesn't 
matter now." 

Thus, as has been said, the whole affair had only 
three obvious effects — the renovation of Lady Craigen- 
noch's town house, a baronetcy for Sir Henry Shum 
(services to the Party are a recognised claim on the 
favour of His Majesty), and the marriage of Prince 
Julian. But from it both Mrs Rivers and Mr Byers 
derived some new ideas of the world and of themselves. 
Shall woman weep and hard men curse their own work 
without result ? The Temple of Truth is not a National 
Institution. So, of course, one pays to go in. Even when 
you are in, it is difficult to look at more than one side of 
it at once. Perhaps Mrs Rivers did not realise this ; and 
Mr Byers could not while he seemed still to hear her 
crying ; he heard the sobs for so many evenings, ming- 
ling oddly with the click of his wife's knitting-needles. 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 

I 

/^LD Tom Gladwin was not a man to whom you 
^^ volunteered advice. He had made an immense 
deal of money for himself, and people who have done 
that generally like also to manufacture their own advice 
on their own premises ; perhaps it is better done that 
way, perhaps there's just a prejudice in favour of the 
home trade-mark. Anyhow, old Tom needed no sug< 
gestions from outside. You said, " Yes, Sir Thomas/' 
or "Of course not. Sir Thomas," or "Certainly, Sir 
Thomas." At all events, you limited your remarks to 
something like that if you were— as I was — a young 
solicitor trying to keep his father's connection together, 
of which Sir Thomas's affairs and the business of the 
Worldstone Park estate formed a considerable and 
lucrative portion. But everybody was in the same 
story about him — secretary, bailiff, stud-groom, gardener, 
butler— yes, butler, although Sir Thomas had confessedly 
never tasted champagne till he was forty, whereas Gilson 
had certainly been weaned on it Even Miss Nettie 
Tyler, when she came on the scene, had the good sense 
to accept Sir Thomas's version of her heart's desire; 
neither had she much cause to quarrel with his readings 
since it embraced Sir Thomas himself and virtually the 
whole of his worldly possessions. He was worth perhaps 
half-a-million pounds in money, and the net rent-roll of 
Worldstone was ten thousand, even after you had dressed 
it up and curled its hair, for all the world as if it were a 
suburban villa instead of an honest, self-respecting 
country gentleman's estate, which ought to have been 

»49 



'5° 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



run to pay three per cent. But the new-comers 
not take land seriously ; they leave that as a prospect 
for their descendants when the ready money, the city- 
made money, has melted away. 

So I took his instructions for his marriage settlement 
and his new will without a word, although they seemed 
to me to be, under the circumstances, pretty stiff docu- 
ments. The old gentleman^ — he was not really old, 
fifty-eight or -nine, I should say, but he looked like a 
granite block that has defied centuries — had, of course, 
two excuses. In the first place, he was fairly crazy 
about Nettie Tyler, orphan daughter of the old vicar of 
Worldstone, an acquaintance of two months' standing 
and (I will say for her) one of the prettiest little figures 
on a horse that I ever saw. In the second, he wanted — 
yes, inevitably he wanted — to found a family and to 
hand on the baronetcy which had properly rewarded his 
strenuous and successful efforts on his own behalf; it 
was the sort of baronetcy which is obviously pregnant 
with a peerage — a step, not a crown ; one learns to dis- 
tinguish these varieties. Accordingly, to cut details 
short, the effect of the new will and of the marriage 
settlement was that, given issue of the said intended 
marriage (and intended it was for the following Tuesday), 
Miss Beatrice Gladwin was to have five hundred a year 
on her father's death, and the rest went to what, for 
convenience's sake, I may call the new undertaking — to 
the Giad win-Tyler establishment and what might spring 
therefrom. Even the five hundred was by the will only, 
therefore revocable. Five hundred a year is not des- 
picable, and is good, like other boons, until revoked. 
But think what Beatrice Gladwin had been two months 
before — the greatest heiress in the county, mistress of 
all ! So the old will had made her — the old will in my 
office safe, which, come next Tuesday, would be so 
much waste paper. I have always found something 
pathetic about a superseded will. It is like a royal 
family in exile. 



wil^^ 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 151 

Sir Thomas read over the documents and looked up 
at me as he took off his spectacles. 

" One great advantage of having made your own way, 
Foulkes," he observed, " is that you're not trammelled by 
settlements made in early life. I can do what I like 
with my own." 

And I, as I have foreshadowed, observed merely, 
" Certainly, Sir Thomas." 

He eyed me for a moment with an air of some sus- 
picion. He was very acute and recognised criticism, 
however inarticulate ; an obstinacy in the bend of one's 
back was enough for him. But I gave him no more 
opening, and, after all, he could not found an explicit 
reproach on the curve of my spine. After a moment he 
went on, rasping the short grey hair that sprouted on 
his chin : 

'' I think you'd better have a few minutes with my 
daughter. Put the effect of these documents into plain 
language for her." I believe he half suspected me again, 
for he added quickly : " Free of technicalities, I mean. 
She knows the general nature of my wishes. I've made 
that quite clear to her myself." No doubt he had. I 
bowed, and he rose, glancing at the clock. "The 
horses must be round," he said ; " I'm going for a ride 
with Miss Tyler. Ask if my daughter can see you 
now ; and I hope you'll stay to lunch, Foulkes." He 
went to the door, but turned again. " I'll send Beatrice 
to you myself," he called, " and you can get the business 
over before we come back." He went off, opening his 
cigar-case and humming a tune, in excellent spirits with 
himself and the world, I fancied. He had reason to be, 
so far as one could see at the minute. 

I went to the window and watched them mounting — 
the strong solid frame of the man, the springy figure of 
the pretty girl. She was chattering gleefully: he 
laughed in a most contented approval of her, and, 
probably, with an attention none too deep to the precise 
purport of her merry words. Besides the two grooms 



there y 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



s another member of the party — one who stood 
rather aloof on the steps that led up to the hall door. 
Here was the lady for whom I waited, Beatrice Gladwin, 
his daughter, who was to have the five hundred a year 
when he died — who was to have had everything, to 
have been mistress of all. She stood there in her calm 
composed handsomeness. Neither pretty nor beautiful 
would you call her, but, without question, remarkably 
handsome. She was also perfectly tranquil. As I 
looked she spoke once ; I heard the words through the 
open window. 

" You must have your own way, then," she said, with 
a smile and a slight shrug of her shoulders. " But the 
horse isn't safe for you, you know." 

" Ay, ay," he answered, laughing again, not at his 
daughter but round to the pretty girl beside him. " I'll 
have my way for four days more." He and his^arue'e 
enjoyed the joke between them ; it went no further, I 
think. 

Beatrice stood watching them for a little while, then 
turned into the house. I watched them a moment 
longer, and saw them take to the grass and break into 
a canter. It was a beautiful sunny morning ; they and 
their fine horses made a good moving bit of life on the 
face of the smiling earth. Was that how it would strike 
Beatrice, once the heiress, now — well, it sounds rather 
strong, but shall we say the survival of an experiment 
that had failed? Once the patroness of the vicar's 
little daughter — I had often seen them when that atti- 
tude obviously and inevitably dominated their inter- 
course ; then for a brief space, by choice or parental 
will, the friend ; now and for the future — my vocabularj' 
or my imagination failed to supply the exact descrip- 
tion of their future relations. It was, however, plain 
that the change to Miss Beatrice Gladwin must be 
very considerable. There came back into my mind 
what my friend, neighbour, and client. Captain Spen< 
Fullard of Gatworth Hall, impecunious scion of i 




MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 



^53 



^Rfa< 



ancient stock, had said in the club at Bittleton (for we 
have a club at Bittleton, and a very good one, too) 
when the news of Sir Thomas's engagement came out. 
"Rough on Miss Beatrice," said he; "but she'll show 
nothing. She's hard, you know, but a sportsman." A 
sportsman she was, as events proved ; and none was to 
know it better than Spencer FulJard himself, who was, 
by the way, supposed to feel, or at least to have ex- 
hibited, even greater admiration for the lady than the 
terms of the quoted remark imply. At the time he had 
not seen Miss Tyler. 

One thing more came into my head while I waited. 
Did pretty Nettie Tyler know the purport of the new 
documents r* If so, what did she think of it? But the 
suggestion which this idea carries with it probably 
asked altogether too much of triumphant youth. It is 
later in life that one is able to look from other people's 
points of view — one's own not being so dazzlingly 
pleasant, I suppose. So I made allowances for Nettie ; 
it was not perhaps so easy for Beatrice Gladwin to do 
'" le same. 



11 



Of course the one thing I had to avoid was any show 
of sympathy ; she would have resented bitterly such an 
impertinence. If I knew her at all — and I had been 
an interested observer of her growth from childhood to 
woman's estate — the sympathy of the county, unheard 
but infallibly divined, was a sore aggravation of her 
fate. As I read extracts from the documents and ex- 
plained their effect, freeing them from technicalities, 
as Sir Thomas had thoughtfully charged me, my im- 
passivity equalled hers. ] might have been telling her 
the price of bloaters at Great Yarmouth that morn- 
ing, and she considering the purchase of half-a-dozen. 
vin fact, we overdid it between us ; we were both 




» 



>54 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



grotesquely uninterested in the documents ; our arti- 
ficial calm made a poor contrast to the primitive and 
disguise-scorning exultation of the pair who had gone 
riding over the turf in the sunshine. I could not help 
it ; ! had to take my cue from her. My old father had 
loved her; perhaps he would have patted her hand, 
perhaps he would even have kissed her cheek : what 
would have happened to her composure then? On the 
other hand, he would have been much more on Sir 
Thomas's side than I was. He used often to quote to 
me a saying of his uncle's, the venerable founder of the 
fine business we enjoyed : " Every other generation, the 
heir ought to lay an egg and then die." The long mi- 
nority which he contemplated as resulting from a family 
hercAvcment prOfiij /uae so sad would reestablish the 
family finances. The Chinese and Japanese, I am told, 
worship their ancestors. English landed gentry wor- 
ship their descendants, and of this cult the family lawyer 
is high priest. My father would have patted Beatrice 
Gladwin's cheek, but he would not have invoked a curse 
on Sir Thomas, as I was doing behind my indifferent 
face and with the silent end of my drily droning 
tongue. I was very glad when we got to the end of the 
documents. 

She gave me a nod and a smile, saying, " I quite 
understand," then rose and went to the window. I 
began to tie my papers up in their tapes. The drafts 
were to go back to be engrossed. She stood looking 
out on the park. The absurd impulse to say that I was 
very sorry, but that I really couldn't help it, assailed 
me again. I resisted, and tied the tapes in particularly 
neat bows, admiring the while her straight, slim, flat- 
shouldered figure. She looked remarkably efficient ; 
I found myself regretting that she was not to have the 
management of the estate. Was that in her mind, too, 
as she surveyed it from the window ? [ do not know, 
but I do know that the next moment she asked me if 
Spencer Fullard were ill ; she had not seen him ab 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 155 

lately. I said that he was, I believed, in robust health, 
but had been up in town on business. (He had gone 
to raise a loan, if that's material.) The subject then 
dropped. I did not, at the time, see any reason why it 
had cropped up at all at that particular and somewhat 
uncomfortable moment. 

What had put Spencer Fullard into her head ? 

Suddenly she spoke again, to herself, in a low voice : 
" How funny ! '* She turned to me and beckoned : " Mr 
Foulkes ! " 

I left my papers on the table and joined her at the 
open window ; it was just to the right of the hall door 
and commanded a wide view of the park, which, stretch- 
ing in gentle undulations, with copses scattered here 
and there among the turf, gave a fine sense of spacious- 
ness and elbow-room — the best things mere wealth can 
give, in my humble opinion. 

" It must be Nettie," she said ; "but why — ^why is she 
riding like that?" 

I followed with my eyes the direction in which she 
pointed. 

" And Where's father ? " 

Still a mile or more away, visible now, but from 
moment to moment hidden by an intervening copse 
and once or twice by a deep dip in the ground, a horse 
came towards us at a gallop — a reckless gallop. The 
next instant the faintest echo of a cry, its purport indis- 
tingruishable, fell on our ears. 

" It is Nettie," said Beatrice Gladwin, her eyes sud- 
denly meeting mine. We stood there for a moment, 
then she walked quickly into the adjoining hall, and 
out on to the steps in front of the door. I followed, 
leaving my papers to look after themselves on the table. 
When I came up to her she said nothing, but caught my 
wrist with her left hand and held it tightly. 

Now we heard what Nettie's cry was. The monoton- 
ous horror of it never ceased for an instant. " Help I 
Help I Help I " It was incessant, and now, as she 



'56 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



reached the drive, sounded loud and shrill in our ears. 
The men in the stables heard it ; two of them ran out 
at top speed to meet the galloping horse. But horse 
and rider were close up to us by now. I broke away from 
Miss Gladwin, who clung to me with a strong uncon- 
scious grip, and sprang forward. I was just in time to 
catch Nettie as she fell from the saddle, and the grooms 
brought her horse to a standstill. Even in my arms 
she still cried shrilly, "Help, help, help!" 

No misunderstanding was possible. "Where? 
Where?" was all I asked, and at last she gasped, 
" By Toovey's farm." 

One of the grooms was on her horse in a moment 
and made off for the spot. Nettie broke away from 
me, staggering to the steps, stumbling over her habit as 
she went, and sank down in a heap ; she ceased now to 
cry for help, and began to sob convulsively. Beatrice 
seemed stunned. She said nothing; she looked at 
none of us ; she stared after the man on horseback who 
had started for Toovey's farm. The second groom 
spoke to me in a low voice: "Where's the master's 
horse ? " 

Nettie heard him. She raised her eyes to his — the 
blue eyes a little while ago so radiant, now so full of 
horror, " They neither of them moved," she said. 

So it was. They were found together under the 
hedgerow ; the horse was alive, though its back was 
broken, and a shot the only mercy. Sir Thomas was 
quite dead. 

That night I carried my papers back to the office, 
and satisfied myself, as my duty was, that the existing 
will lay in its place in the office safe ; since the morning 
that document had, so to say, gone up in the world very 
much. So had Miss Gladwin. She was mistress of alt. 




k 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 



in 




As may be imagined, the situation evoked a great deal 
of sympathy and occasioned an even greater quantity 
of talk. Killed four days before his wedding! The 
poor little bride! She had lost so much more than 
merely Sir Thomas 1 The genera! opinion of the 
Bittleton Club, which may be taken as representative 
of the views of the county, was that Miss Gladwin 
ought to "do something "for Miss Tyler. There was 
much difference as to the extent of this suggested 
generosity : almost every figure between five thousand 
and fifty thousand pounds had its supporters. I think 
that of the entire roll of members only two had no 
proposal to submit (hypothetically) to Miss Gladwin. 
One was myself, tongue-tied by my position as her 
lawyer ; the other was Spencer Fullard, who did nothing 
but smoke and tap his leg with his walking-stick while 
the question was under discussion. I remembered his 
summary of the lady — "hard, but a sportsman." The 
hard side might indicate that she would leave the situa- 
tion as fate had made it. What did the sportsman in 
her say? I found myself wondering what Captain 
I Fullard's views were, supposing he had taken the trouble 
I — which, however, seemed to be a pleasure to his fellow- 
members — to arrive at any. 

To tell the truth, I resented the gossip about her all 
the more because 1 could not stifle an inward feeling 
that if they had known her as well as I did — or. perhaps 
I should say, had seen lier as often as I had (which is a 
safer way of putting it when a woman's in the case) — 
they would have gossiped not less, but more. She was 
strange, and, I suppose, hard, in her total ignoring of 
the idea that there was any such question at all as that 
which kept the Bittleton clubmen — and of course their 
es — so much on the gog, Nettie Tyler did not leave 
Worldstone Park. It may be assumed that her 



'J8 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



were paid, and probably she had pocket-money. There 
the facts of the case came to a sudden stop. Had 
Beatrice Gladwin turned her into a " companion " ? 
Anybody who chose to put it in that light was, on the 
apparent facts, extremely hard to contradict or to blame, 
but, as I felt, not at all hard to be annoyed at. Well, I 
had always hated the Tyler project. 

Meanwhile Miss Gladwin was exhibiting, as 1 had 
foreseen she would, extraordinary efficiency; and her 
efficiency gave me plenty of work, besides the routine 
and not small business incident on the transmission of 
50 considerable an estate as Sir Thomas's. She was 
going in for building as soon as the death duties were 
out of the way ; meanwhile she gathered the reins of 
her affairs into her own hands and regulated every 
detail very carefully. Sir Thomas, like many men 
successful in large concerns, had been easy-going about 
his private interests. I was constantly at Worldstone 
Park, often spending from Saturday to Monday there, 
and devoting the Sunday, less church time, to its mis- 
tress's service. She was good enough to treat me with 
great candour, and discussed all things very openly — 
except Miss Nettie Tyler, 

And what of Miss Nettie Tyler? 1 do not consider 
— and I speak with no favourable prejudice — that that 
young lady's behaviour was open to very serious criti- 
cism. It surprised me favourably. I admit that she 
was meek ; now and then I thought her rather obtru- 
sively meek. But then she might naturally have been 
crushed ; she might well have been an insupportably 
mournful companion. She was neither. 1 could not 
call her helpful, because she was one of the helpless so 
far as practical affairs go. But she was reasonably 
cheerful, and she put forward no claim of any sort 
whatsoever. She did not appear to think that Beatrice 
ought to "do anything" for her beyond what she was 
doing; and that, to my certain knowledge, did not 
include the gift of even the smallest of all the various 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 159 

sums suggested at the Bittleton Club. All you could 
say was that the lady who was to have been mistress of 
Worldstone Park still lived there, and made for the 
moment remarkably little difference. When one comes 
to think it over, this was really immensely to her credit. 
She might have made life there impossible. Or did she 
know that in such a case Miss Gladwin would send her 
away quite calmly? Let us give credit where credit is 
possible, and adopt the more favourable interpretation. 
Things went very well indeed in a very difficult situation 
— till Spencer Fullard made his entry on the stage. 

His coming made a difference from the very first. I 
think that the two girls had been living in a kind of 
numbness which prevented them from feeling as acutely 
as they naturally might the position in which the freak 
of fate had placed them. Each lived in thought till he 
came — in the thought of what had been and would have 
been ; to neither had the actual become the truly real. 
There had been a barrier between them. Nettie's ex- 
cellent behaviour and Beatrice's remarkable efliciency 
had alike been masks, worn unconsciously, but none 
the less and by no less sufficient disguises. They had 
lived in the shadow of the death. Fullard brought 
back life — which is to say, he brought back conflict 

Nothing was further from his original idea. Like Sir 
Thomas, he was a descendant-worshipper — born to it, 
moreover, which Sir Thomas had not been. I was his 
high priest, so, of course, I knew what he was about 
He came to woo the rich Miss Gladwin, picking up his 
wooing (he had excellently easy manners) just at the 
spot where he had dropped it when Sir Thomas Glad- 
win announced his engagement to Miss Nettie Tyler. 
" Dropped " is a word too definite. " Suspended " might 
do, or even " attenuated." He was a captain — let us say 
that he had called a halt to reconnoitre his ground, but 
had not ordered a retreat. Events had cleared the way 
for him. He advanced again. 

Should I blame him ? My father would have blessed 



i6o 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



him, though he might have advised him to lay an ^g 
and die. No; Worldstone was rich enough to warrant 
his living, but of Gatworth there was left an annual 
income of hardly eight hundred pounds. But three 
hundred years in the county behind it ! Three hundred 
years since the cadet branch migrated from Gloucester- 
shire, where the Fullards had been since the Flood ! It 
was my duty to bless his suit, and I did. It was no 
concern of mine that he had, in confidence, called Miss 
Gladwin "hard." He had called her a "sportsman," 
too. Set one off against the other, remembering his 
position and his cult. 

Sir Thomas had been dead a year when Fullard and 
I first spent a Sunday together at Worldstone Park. 
He had been there before ; so had I : but we had not 
chanced to coincide. It was May, and spring rioted 
about us. The girls, too, had doffed some of their 
funereal weeds ; Nettie wore white and black, Beatrice 
black and white. Life was stirring in the place again. 
Nettie was almost gay, Beatrice no longer merely effi- 
cient. For the first time 1 found it possible to slip a 
dram of pleasure into the cup of a business visit 
Curiously enough, the one person who was, as I sup- 
posed, there on the pleasantest errand, wore the most 
perturbed aspect. The fate of lovers ? 1 am not sure. 
I have met men who took the position with the utmost 
serenity. But if one were uncertain to whom one was 
making love? The notion was a shock at first 

The girls went to church in the morning ; Fullard and 
I walked round and round the garden, smoking our 
pipes. I expatiated on Miss Gladwin's remarkable 
efficiency. " A splendid head 1 " I said with enthusiasm. 

" A good-looking pair in their different ways," was his 
somewhat unexpected reply. 

" I meant intellectually," I explained, with a laugh. 

"Miss Tyler's no fool, mind you," remarked the 
captain. 

I realised that his thoughts had not been with my 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE i6i 

conversation. Where had they been ? In my capacity 
of high priest, I went on commending Miss Gladwin. 
He recalled himself to listen, but the sense of duty was 
obvious. Suddenly I recollected that he had not met 
Nettie Tyler before Sir Thomas died. He had been on 
service during the two years she had lived in World- 
stone village. 



IV 

After lunch we all sat together on the lawn. Yes, life 
was there, and the instinct for life, and for new life. 
Poor Sir Thomas's brooding ghost had taken its de- 
parture. I was glad, but the evidence of my eyes made 
me also uneasy. The situation was riot developing on 
easy lines. 

With his ears Fullard listened to Beatrice Gladwin ; 
with his eyes he watched the girl who was to have been 
her all-powerful stepmother, who was now her most 
humble dependant. I saw it — I, a man. Were the 
girls themselves unconscious? The idea is absurd. If 
anybody were unconscious, it was Fullard himself; or, 
at least, he thought his predicament undetected. I 
suggested to Nettie that she and I might take a walk : 
a high priest has occasionally to do things like that 
when there is no chaperon about. She refused, not 
meekly now, but almost pertly. Beatrice raised her 
eyes for a moment, looked at her, and coloured ever so 
slightly. I think we may date the declaration of war 
from that glance. The captain did not see it : he was 
lighting a cigarette. None the less, the next moment 
he rose and proposed to accompany me himself. That 
did almost as well — how far I had got into the situa- 
tion ! — and I gladly acquiesced. We left the two ladies 
together, or, to be precise, just separating ; they both, 
it appeared, had letters to write. 

I should say at once that Spencer Fullard was one of 



i62 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

the most honest men I have ever known (besides being 
one or the best-louking). If he came fortune-hunting, it 
was t>ecause he believed that pursuit to be his dutj' — 
duty to self, to ancestors, and, above all, to descendants. 
But, in truth, when he came first, it had not been in 
unwilling obedience to duty's spur. He had liked Miss 
Gladwin very much ; he had paid her attentions, even 
flirted with her ; and, in the end, he liked her very much 
still- But there is a thing different from liking — a thing 
violent, sudden, and obliterating. It makes liking cease 
to count. 

We talked little on our visit to the home farm. I 
took occasion once more to point out Miss Gladwin's 
efficiency. Fullard fidgeted : he did not care about 
efficiency in women — that seemed plain. I ventured to 
observe that her investment of money on the estate was 
likely to pay well ; he seemed positively uncomfortable. 
After these conversational failures, I waited for him. 
We were on our way back before he accepted the 
opening. 

" 1 say, Foulkes," he broke out suddenly, "do you 
suppose Miss Tyler's going to stay here permanently ? " 

" I don't know. Why shouldn't she ? " 

He swished at the nettles as he made his next con- 
tribution to our meagre conversation. "But Beatrice 
Gladwin will marry some day soon, I expect." 

" Well ? " 

I was saying little, but at this point Fullard went one 
better. He just cocked his eye at me, leaving me to 
read his meaning as I best could. 

" In that case, of course, she'd be sent away," said I, 
smiling. 

"Kicked out?" He grumbled the question, half 
under his breath. 

I shrugged my shoulders. " Everything would be 
done kindly, no doubt." 

" Not fair on the chap, either," he remarked after 
some moments. I think that my mind supplied the 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 163 

unspoken part of his conversation quite successfully : he 
was picturing the household d trots ; he himself was, in 
his mind's eye, " the chap," and under the circumstances 
he thought "the chap" ought not to be exposed to 
temptation. I agreed, but kept my agreement, and my 
understanding, to myself. 

"What appalling bad luck that poor little girl's 
had I " 

" One of them had to have very bad luck," I reminded 
him. " Sir Thomas contrived that" 

He started a little. He had forgotten the exceedingly 
bad luck which once had threatened Miss Gladwin, the 
girl he had come to woo. The captain's state of feeling 
was, in fact, fairly transparent. I was sorry for him — 
well, for all of them — because he certainly could not 
afford to offer his hand to Nettie Tyler. 

Somewhere on the way back from the home farm I 
lost Captain Spencer Fullard. Miss Tyler's letters 
must have been concise ; there was the gleam of a white 
frock, dashed here and there with splashes of black, in the 
park. Fullard said he wanted more exercise, and I 
arrived alone on the lawn, where my hostess sat beside 
the tea-table. Feeling guilty for another's sin, as one 
often does, I approached shamefacedly. 

She gave me tea, and asked, with a businesslike 
abruptness which I recognised as inherited, " What are 
they saying about me ? " 

That was Gladwin all over ! To say not a word for 
twelve months, because for twelve months she had not 
cared ; then to blurt it out ! Because she wanted light ? 
Obviously that was the reason — the sole reason. She 
had not cared before ; now something had occurred to 
make her think, to make her care, to make the question 
of her dealings with Miss Tyler important. I might 
have pretended not to understand, but there was a 
luxury in dealing plainly with so fine a plain-dealer ; I 
told her the truth without shuffling. 

"On the whole, it's considered that you would be 



1 64 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



doing the handsome thing in giving her something," I 
answered, sipping my tea. 

She appreciated the line I took. She had expected 
surprise and fencing; it amused and pleased her to 
meet with neither. She was in the mood (by the way, 
we could see the black-dashed white frock and Fullard's 
manly figure a quarter of a mile away) to meet frank- 
ness with its fellow. 

"She never put in a word for mc," she said, smiling. 
" With father, I mean." 

"She doesn't understand business," I pleaded. 

'■I've been expected to sympathise with her bad 
luck ! " 

So had I — by the captain, half-an-hour before. But 
I did not mention it. 

"The Bittleton Club thinks I ought to — to do some- 
thing ? " 

I laughed at her taking our club as the arbiter. She 
had infused a pretty irony into her question. 

" It does, Miss Gladwin." My answer maintained 
the ironical note. 

"Then I will," said she, with a highly 
appearance of simplicity. 

I could not quite make her out, but it came horb 
to me that her secret resentment against Nettie Tyler 
was very bitter. 

She spoke again in a moment : " A word from be| 
would have gone a long way with father." 

" That's all in the past, isn't it P " I murmured soi 

ingiy- ,.-_ 

" The past ! " She seemed to throw doubt on tM 
existence of such a thing. 

The captain's manly figure and the neat little shape 
in white and black were approaching us. The stress of 
feeling has to be great before it prevents sufferers frotn 
turning up to tea. Miss Gladwin glanced toward her 
advancing guests, smiled, and relighted the spirit-lamp 
under the kettle. I suppose I was looking tboughtM^ 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 165 

for the next moment she said, " Rather late in the day 
to do anything ? Is that what's in your mind? Will 
they say that ? " 

" How can I tell ? Your adherents say you Ve been 
like sisters." 

" I never had a sister younger and prettier than 
myself," said she. She waved her hand to the new 
arrivals, now close on us. " I nearly had a stepmother 
like that, though," she added. 

I did not like her at that moment; but is any- 
body attractive when he is fighting hard for his own ? 
Renunciation is so much more picturesque. She was 
fighting— or preparing to fight. I had suddenly 
realised the position, for all that the garden was so 
peaceful, and spring was on us, and Nettie's new-born 
laugh rang light across the grass, so different from the 
cry we once had heard from her lips in that place. 

Beatrice Gladwin looked at me with a suddenly 
visible mockery in her dark eyes. She had read my 
thoughts, and she was admitting that she had. She 
was very " hard." Fullard was perfectly right. Yet I 
think that if she had been alone at that moment she 
might have cried. That was just an impression of 
mine ; really she gave no tangible ground for it, save in 
an odd constraint of her mouth. The next moment she 
laughed. 

" I like a fight to be a fair fight," she said, and looked 
steadily at me for a moment. She raised her voice and 
called to them : " Come along ; the tea's getting cold." 
She added to me, " Come to my room at ten to-morrow, 
please." 

The rest of the evening she was as much like velvet 
as it was in a Gladwin to be. But I waited. I wanted 
to know how she meant to arrange her fair fight. She 
wanted one. A sportsman, after all, you see. 



1 66 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



She was not like velvet when we met the next morning 
after breakfast in her study : her own room was em- 
phatically a study, and in no sense a boudoir. She was 
like iron, or like the late Sir Thomas when he gave me 
instructions for his new will and for the settlement on 
his intended marriage with Miss Nettie Tyler. There 
was in her manner the same clean-cut intimation that 
what she wanted from me was not advice, but the 
promptest obedience. I suppose that she had really 
made up her mind the day before — even while we 
talked on the lawn, in all probability. 

" I wish you, Mr Foulkes," she said, " to be so good as 
to make arrangements to place one hundred thousand 
pounds at my disposal at the bank as soon as possible.^ 

I knew it would be no use, but my profession de- 
manded a show of demur. " A very large sum just now 
— with the duties — and your schemes for the future." 

" I've considered the amount carefully ; it's just what 
appears to me proper and sufficient" 

" Then I suppose there's no more to be said," I sighed 
resignedly. 

She looked at me with a slight smile. "Of course 
you g^ess what I'm going to do with it?" she asked. 

"Yes, I think so. You ought to have it properly 
settled on her, you know. It should be carefully 
tied up." 

The suggestion seemed to annoy her. 

" No," she said sharply. " What she does with it, and 
what becomes of it, have nothing to do with me. I 
shall have done my part. I shall be — free." 

" I wish you would take the advice of somebody you 

trust." 

That softened her suddenly. She put her hand 
out across the table and pressed mine for a moment. 
" I trust you very much. I have no other friend I trust 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 167 

so much. Believe that, please. But I must act for my- 
self here." She smiled again, and with the old touch 
of irony added, " It will satisfy your friends at the 
BittletonClub?" 

" It's a great deal too much," I protested, with a 
shake of the head. " Thirty would have been adequate ; 
fifty, generous ; a hundred thousand is quixotic." 

"I've chosen the precise sum most carefully," Miss 
Gladwin assured me. "And it's anything but quix- 
otic," she added, with a smile. 

A queer little calculation was going on in my brain. 
Wisdom (or interest, which you will) and twenty-five 
thousand a year against love and three thousand — was 
that, in her eyes, a fair fight ? Perhaps the reckoning 
was not so far out. At any rate, love had a chance — 
with three thousand pounds a year. There is more 
difference between three thousand pounds and nothing 
than exists between three thousand and all the rest of 
the money in the world. 

" Is Miss Tyler aware of your intentions?" 

" Not yet, Mr Foulkes." 

" She'll be overwhelmed," said I. It seemed the right 
observation to offer. 

For the first time. Miss Gladwin laughed openly 
" Will she ? " she retorted, with a scorn that was hardly 
civil. " She'll think it less than I owe her." 

"You owe her nothing. What you may choose to 
give 

Miss Gladwin interrupted me without ceremony 
"She confuses me with fate — with what happened — 
with her loss — and — and disappointment. She identi- 
fies me with all that." 

" Then she's very unreasonable." 

" I daresay ; but I can understand." She smiled. 
" I can understand very well how one girl can seem like 
that to another, Mr Foulkes — how she can embody 
everything of that sort." She paused and then added : 
" If I thought for a moment that she'd be — what was 



t68 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

your foolish word? — oh yes, 'overwhelmed,' I wouldn't 
do it. But I know her much too well. You remember 
that my adherents say we've been like sisters? Don't, 
sisters understand each other?" 

"You're hard on her — hard and unfair," I said, 
bitterness was not good to witness. ^ 

"Perhaps I'm hard; I'm not unfair." Her voice 
trembled a little ; her composure was not what it had 
been at the beginning of our interview. " At any rate, 
I'm trying to be fair now ; only you mustn't — you must 
not — think that she'll be overwhelmed." 

"Very well." said 1. " I won't think that. And I'll 
put matters in train about the money. You'll have to 
go gently for a bit afterwards, you know, Even you 
are not a gold mine." She nodded, and I rose from my 
chair. " Is that ail for to-day?" I asked. 

"Yes, I think so," she said. "You're going away?" 

"Yes, I must get back to Bittleton. The office 
waits." 

She gave me her hand. " I shall see you again 
before long," she said. " Remember, I'm trying to be 
fair — fair to everybody. Yes, fair to myself too. I 
think I've a right to fair treatment, I'm giving myself 
a chance too, Mr Foulkcs. Good-bye." 

Her dismissal was not to be questioned, but I should 
have liked more light on her last words. I had seen 
enough to understand her impulse to give Nettie Tyler 
a fair iield, to rid her of the handicap of penury, to do 
the handsome thing, just when it seemed most against 
her own interest. That was the sportsmanlike side of 
her, working all the more strongly because she disliked 
her rival. I saw loo, though not at the time quite so 
clearly, in what sense she was trying to be fair to 
Captain Spencer Fullard : she thought the scales were 
weighted too heavily against the disinterested — shall I 
say the romantic ?— side of that gentleman's disposition. 
But that surely was quixotic, and she had denied 
quixotism. Yet it was difficult to perceive how ' "~ 



MISS GLADWIN^S CHANCE 169 

' was giving herself a chance, as she had declared. She 
seemed to be throwing her best chance away; so it 
appeared in my matter-of-fact eyes. Or was she 
hoping to dazzle Fullard with the splendour of her 
generosity? She had too much penetration to harbour 
any such idea. He would think the gift handsome, 
even very handsome, but he would be no more over- 
whelmed than Nettie Tyler herself. Even impartial 
observers at Bittleton had talked of fifty thousand 
pounds as the really proper thing. If Fullard were in 
love with Nettie, he would think double the amount 
none too much ; and if he were not — well, then, where 
was Beatrice Gladwin's need for fair treatment — ^her 
need to be given a chance at all ? For, saving love, she 
held every card in the game. 

I went back to Bittleton, kept my own counsel, set 
the business of the money on foot, and waited for the 
issue of the fair fight. No whisper about the money 
leaked through to the Bittleton Club; but I heard 
of a small party at Worldstone Park, and Spencer 
Fullard was one of the guests. Therefore battle was 
joined. 



VI 

The following Saturday fortnight the Bittleton Press 
scored what journalists call a " scoop " at the expense 
of the rival and Radical organ, the Advertiser, Such 
is the reward of sound political principle ! Here is the 
paragraph — " exclusive," the editor was careful to make 
you understand : 

We are privileged to announce that a marriage has been 
arranged and will shortly be solemnised between Captain Spencer 
Fullard, D.S.O., of Gatworth Hall, and Henrietta, daughter of the 
late Rev. F. E. Tyler, Vicar of Worldstone. We extend, in the 
name of the county, our cordial cong^tulations to the happy 
pair. Captain Fullard is the representative of a name anaent 



I70 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



and respected in the county, and has done good service to bis 
King and country. The romantic story of the lady whose affec 
tions he has been so fortunate as to win wiM be fresh in the minds 
of our readers. As we sympathised with her sorrow, so now we 
may with her Joy. We understand that Miss Gladwin of Wtwld- 
stone Park, following what she is confident would have been the 
wish of her lamented father, the late much-rcspecied Sir Thomas 
Gladwin, Ban., M.P., D.L., J. P., C,A., is presenting the prospec- 
tive bride with a wedding present which in itself amounts to a 
fortune. Happy they who are in a position to exercise such 
graceful munificence and to display liliiij afTection in so gracious 
a form! It would be indiscreet to mention figures, but rumour 
has not hesitated to speak of what our gay forefathers used to call 
"a plum." We arc not at liberty to say more than that this 
■ iS the amount. 



Whereupon, of course, the Bittleton Club at once 
doubled it, and Miss Gladwin's fame filled the air. 

This was all very pretty, and it must be admitted 
that Beatrice Gladwin had performed her task in a most 
tactful way. For reasons connected with the known 
condition of the finances of the Gatworth Hal! estate, 
it sounded so much better that Miss Gladwin's present 
should come as a result of the engagement than — well, 
the other way round. The other way round would 
have given occasion for gossip to the clubmen of 
Bittleton. But now — Love against the World, and an 
entirely unlooked-for bonus of — "' a plum," as the editor, 
with a charming eighteenth-century touch, chose to 
describe the benefaction. That was really ideal. 

Really ideal ; and, of course, in no way at all coire- 
spondent to the facts of the case. The truth was that 
Miss Beatrice Gladwin had secured her "fair fight" — 
and, it seemed, had lost it very decisively and very 
speedily. As soon as it was reasonably possible — and 
made so by Miss Gladwin's action — for Fullard to think 
of marrying Nettie Tyler, he had asked her to be his 
wife. To which question there could be only one 
answer. Miss Gladwin had given away too much 
weight; she should have quartered that "plum." 
thought, 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 171 

But that would not have made a " fair fight " ? Per- 
haps not. Perhaps a fair fight was not to be made at 
all under the circumstances. But the one thing which, 
above all, I could not see was the old point that had 
puzzled me before. It might be fair to soften the 
conflict between Captain Fullard's love and Captain 
Fullard's duty as a man of ancient stock. It might 
be fair to undo some of fate's work and give Nettie 
Tyler a chance of the man she wanted — freedom to 
fight for him — ^just that, you understand. But where 
came in the chance for herself of which Beatrice 
Gladwin had spoken? 

As I have said, I was Captain Fullard's lawyer as 
well as Miss Gladwin's, and he naturally came to me to 
transact the business incident on his marriage. Beatrice 
Gladwin proved right : he was not overwhelmed, nor, 
from his words, did I gather that Miss Tyler was. But 
they were both highly appreciative. 

The captain was also inclined to congratulate himself 
on his knowledge of character, his power of reading the 
human heart. 

" Hard, if you like," he said, sitting in my office arm- 
chair ; " but a sportsman in the end, as I told you she 
was. I knew one could rely on her doing the right 
thing in the end." 

"At considerable cost," I remarked, sharpening a 
pencil. 

"It's liberal — ^very liberal. Oh, we feel that. But, 
of course, the circumstances pointed to liberality." He 
paused, then added : 

" And I don't know that we ought to blame her for 
taking time to think it over. Of course it made all the 
difference to me, Foulkes." 

There came in the captain's admirable candour. Be- 
tween him and me there was no need — and, I may add, 
no room — for the romantic turn which the Bittletan 
Press had given to the course of events ; that was 
for public consumption only. 



172 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"But for It I couldn't possibly have come forwail 
whatever I felt." 

" As a suitor for Miss Tyler's hand ? " said I. 

The captain looked at me; gradually a smile came 
on his remarkably comely face. 

■' Look here, Foulkes," said he very good-humoured ly, 
"just you congratulate me on being able to do as I like. 
Never mind what you may happen to be thinking behind 
that sallow old fiddle-head of yours." 

" And Miss Tyler is, I'm sure, radiantly happy ? " 

Captain Fullard's candour abode till the end. " Well, 
Nettie hasn't done badiy for herself, looking at it all 
round, you know." 

With all respect to the late Sir Thomas, and even 
allowing for a terrible shock and a trying interval, I did 
not think she had. 

Miss Gladwin gave them a splendid wedding at 
Worldstone. Her manner to them both was most 
cordial, and she was gay beyond the wont of her staid 
demeanour. I do not think there was affectation in this. 

When the bride and bridegroom — on this occasion 
^ain by no means overwhelmed — had departed amidst 
cheers, when the rout of guests had gone, when the 
triumphal arch was being demolished and the rustics 
were finishing the beer, she walked with me in the 
garden while I smoked a cigar. (There's nothing like 
a wedding for making you want a cigar,) 

After we had finished our gossiping about how well 
everything had gone off — and that things in her house 
should go off well was very near to Beatrice Gladwin's 
heart — we were silent for a while. Then she turned 
to me and said : " I'm very content, Mr Foulkes," 
Her face was calm and peaceful ; she did not look so 
hard, 

" I'm glad that doing the handsome thing brings 
content. I wonder if you know how gtad I am?" 

" Ves. I know. You're a good friend. But you'r^ 
making your old mistake. I wasn't thinking just t' 



MISS GLADWIN'S CHANCE 173 

of what you call the handsome thing. I was thinking 
of the chance that I gave myself." 

" I never quite understood that," said I. 

She gave a little laugh. "But for that * handsome 
thing,' he'd certainly have asked me — he'd have had 
to, poor man — me, and not her. And he'd have done 
it very soon." 

I assented — not in words, just in silence and cigar 
smoke. 

She looked at me without embarrassment, though she 
was about to say something that she might well have 
refused to say to any living being. She seemed to 
have a sort of pleasure in the confession — at least an 
impulse to make it that was irresistible. She smiled 
as she spoke — amused at herself, or, perhaps, at the 
new idea she would give me of herself 

"If he had," she went on — "if he had made love 
to me, I couldn't have refused him — I couldn't, indeed. 
And yet I shouldn't have believed a word he was 
saying — not a word of love he said. I should have 
been a very unhappy woman if I hadn't given myself that 
chance. You've been a little behind the scenes. Nobody 
else has. I want you to know that I'm content." She 
put her hand in mine and gave me a friendly squeeze. 
"And to-morrow we'll get back to business, you and 
I," she said. 



THE PRINCE CONSORT 

T HAD known her for some considerable time before 
^ I came to know him. Most of their acquaintance 
were in the same case ; for to know him was among the 
less noticeable and the less immediate results of know- 
ing her. You might go to the house three or four times 
and not happen upon him. He was there always, but 
he did not attract attention. You joined Mrs Clinton's 
circle, or, if she were in a confidential mood, you sat 
with her on the sofa. She would point out her daughter, 
and Muriel, attired in a wonderful elaboration of some 
old-fashioned mode, would talk to you about ** Mamma's 
books," while Mrs Clinton declared that, do what she 
would, she could not prevent the darling from reading 
them. Perhaps, when you had paid half-a-dozen visits, 
Mr Clinton would cross your path. He was very polite, 
active for your comfort, ready to carry out his wife's 
directions, determined to be useful. Mrs Clinton 
recognised his virtues. She called him an "old dear," 
with a fond pitying smile on her lips, and would tell 
you, with an arch glance and the slightest of shrugs, 
that "he wrote too." If you asked what he wrote, she 
said that it was " something musty," but that it kept 
him happy, and that he never minded being interrupted, 
or even having nowhere to write, because Muriel's 
dancing lesson occupied the dining-room, " and I really 
couldn't have him in my study. One must be a/one to 
work, mustn't one?" She could not be blamed for 
holding her work above his ; there was nothing at all to 
show for his; whereas hers not only brought her a 
measure of fame, as fame is counted, but also doubled 
the moderate private income on which they had started 

174 



THE PRINCE CONSORT 175 

housekeeping — and writing — thirteen or fourteen years 
before. Mr Clinton himself would have been the last 
to demur to her assumption ; he accepted his inferiority 
with an acquiescence that was almost eagerness. He 
threw himself into the task of helping his wife, not of 
course in the writing, but by relieving her of family and 
social cares. He walked with Muriel, and was sent to 
parties when his wife was too busy to come. I recollect 
that he told me, when we had become friendly, that 
these offices made considerable inroads on his time. 
" If," he said apologetically, " I had not acquired the 
habit of sitting up late, I should have difficulty in 
getting forward with my work. As it happens, Millie 
doesn't work at night — the brain must be fresh for her 
work — and so I can have the study then ; and I am not so 
liable to — I mean, I have not so many other calls then." 
I liked Clinton, and I do not mean by that that I 
disliked Mrs Clinton. Indeed I admired her very 
much, and her husband's position in the household 
seemed just as natural to me as it did to himself and to 
everybody else. Young Gregory Dulcet, who is a poet 
and a handsome impudent young dog, wa^ felt by us all 
to have put the matter in a shape that was at once true 
in regard to our host, and pretty in regard to our 
hostess, when he referred, apparently in a casual way, 
to Mr Clinton as " the Prince Consort." Mrs Clinton 
laughed and blushed ; Muriel clapped her hands and 
ran off to tell her father. She came back saying that 
he was very pleased with the name, and I believe that 
very possibly he really was. Anyhow, young Dulcet 
was immensely pleased with it ; he repeated it, and it 
" caught on." I heard Mrs Clinton herself, with a half- 
daring, half-modest air, use it more than once. Thus 
Mrs Clinton was led to believe herself great : so that 
she once asked me if I thought that there was any 
prospect of The Quarterly " doing her." I said that I 
did not see why not Yet it was not a probable literary 
event. 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

days • 



■76 

Thus Mr Clinton passed the days of an obscwe 
useful life, helping his wife, using the dining-room when 
dancing lessons did not interfere, and enjoying the 
luxury of the study in the small hours of the morning. 
And Mrs Clinton grew more and more pitiful to him ; 
and Muriel more and more patronising ; and the world 
more and more forgetful. And then, one fine morning, 
as I was going to my office, the Prince Consort over- 
took me. He was walking fast, and he carried a large, 
untidy, brown-paper parcel. I quickened my pace to 
keep up with his. 

"Sorry to hurry you, old fellow," said he, "but I 
must be back in an hour. A fellow's coming to inter- 
view Millie, and I promised to be back and show him 
over the house. She doesn't want to lose more of her 
time than is absolutely necessary : she's in the thick 
of a new story, you see. And Muriel's got her fiddle 
lesson, so she can't do it," 

" And what's brought you out with the family wash ? " 
I asked in pleasantry, pointing to the parcel. 

The Prince Consort blushed (though he must have 
been forty at least at this date), pulled his beard, and 
said : 

"This? Do you mean this? Oh, this is — well, it's 
a little thing of my own." 

"Of your own? What do you mean ? " I asked. 

" Didn't Millie ever tell you that I write too? Wi 
I do when I can get a few hours. And this is it. I' 
managed to get a fellow to look at it Miilic spoke 
word for me, you know." 

I do not know whether my expression was sceptical 
or offensive, but I suppose it must have been one or the 
other, for the Prince Consort went on hastily : 

" Oh, I'm not going to be such an ass as to pay any- 
thing for having it brought out, you know. They must 
do it on spec, or leave it alone. Besides, they really 
like to oblige Millie, you see." 

" It doesn' 



ifs 



THE PRINCE CONSORT 177 

" Er — no. I'm afraid if s rather long," he admitted. 

" What's it about ? " 

"Oh, it's dull, heavy stuff. I can't do what Millie 
does, you see. It's not a novel." 

We parted at the door of the publisher who had 
been ready to oblige Mrs Clinton, and would, I thought, 
soon regret his complaisance; and I went on to my 
office, dismissing the Prince Consort and his "little 
thing " from my mind. 

I went to the Clintons' about three months' later, in 
order to bid them farewell before starting for a holiday 
on the Continent. They were, for a wonder, without 
other visitors, and when we had talked over Mrs 
Clinton's last production, she stretched out her hand 
and pointed to the table. 

"And there," she said, with a little laugh, "is 
Thompson's" (the Prince Consort's Christian name 
is Thompson) " magnum opus. Vincents' have just 
sent him his advance copies." 

The Prince Consort laughed nervously as I rose and 
walked to the table. 

" Never mind, papa," I heard Muriel say encourag- 
ingly. " You know Mr George Vincent says it's very 
good." 

" Oh, he thought that would please your mother," 
protested the Prince Consort. 

I examined the two large thick volumes that lay on 
the table. I glanced at the title page : and I felt sorry 
for the poor Prince Consort. It must have been a 
terrible " grind " to write such a book — almost as bad 
as reading it. But I said something civil about the 
importance and interest of the subject. 

"If you really don't mind looking at it," said the 
Prince Consort, " I should like awfully to send you a 
copy." 

" Oh yes ! You must read it," said Mrs Clinton. 
" Why, rm going to read — well, some of it ! I've pro- 
mised ! " 



178 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

"So am I," said little Muriel, while the Prince Con- 
sort rubbed his hands together with a sort of pride 
which was, on its other side, the profoundest humility. 
He was wondering, I think, that he should have been 
able to produce any book at all — even the worst of 
books — and admiring a talent which he had not con- 
sidered himself to possess. 

" I'm going to worry everybody who comes here to buy 
it — or to order it at Mudie's, anyhow," pursued Mrs 
Clinton. " What's written in this house must be read." 

" I hope Vincents' won't lose a lot over it," said the 
Prince Consort, shaking his head. 

" Oh well, they've made a good deal out of me before 
now," laughed his wife lightly, 

I did not take the Prince Consort's book away with 
me to the Continent. Whatever else it might be, it was 
certainly not holiday reading, and it would have needed 
a portmanteau to itself. But the reverberation of the 
extraordinary and almost unequalled "boom" which 
the book made reached me in the recesses of Switzer- 
land. 1 came on The Times of three days before in my 
hotel, and it had three columns and a half on Mr 
Thompson Clinton's work. The weekly Budget which 
my sister sent to me at Andermatt contained, besides 
a long review, a portrait of the Prince Consort (he must 
have sat to them on purpose) and a biographical sketch 
of him, quite accurate as to the remarkably few inci- 
dents which his previous life contained, ft was this 
sketch which first caused me to begin to realise what 
was happening. For the sketch, after a series of 
eulogies (which to my prepossessed mind seemed 
absurdly extravagant) on the Prince Consort, reached 
its conclusion with the following remark : — " Mr 
Thompson Clinton's wife is also a writer, and is known 
in the literary world as the author of more than one 
clever and amusing novel." 1 laid down the Budget 
with a vaeue feeling that a revolution bad occurred. ' *' 
was now Mrs Clinton who "wrote too." 



t"-*- 



ad occurred. ' I|^ 



THE PRINCE CONSORT 179 

I was right in my feeling, yet my feeling was in- 
adequate to the reality with which I was faced on my 
return to England. The Prince Consort was the hero 
of the hour. I had written him a line of warm con- 
gratulation, and I settled at once to the book, not only 
in order to be able to talk about it, but also because I 
could not, without personal investigation, believe that 
he had done all they said. But he had. It was a 
wonderful book — full of learning and research, acute 
and profound in argument, and (greatest of all surprises) 
eminently lucid, polished, and even brilliant in style ; 
irony, pathos, wit — the Prince Consort had them all. 
I laid the second volume down, wondering no longer 
that he had become an authority, that his name 
appeared in the lists of public banquets, that he was 
quoted now by one, now by the other, political party, 
and that translations into French and German were to 
be undertaken by distinguished savants. 

And of course both The Quarterly and The Edinburgh 
had articles — "did him," as his wife had phrased it. 
Upon which, being invited by Mrs Clinton to an 
evening party, I made a point of going. 

There were a great many people there 5iat night. A 
large group was on the hearthrug. I am tall, and 
looking over the heads of the assembly I saw the 
Prince Consort standing there. He was smiling, still 
rather nervously, and was talking in quick eager tones. 
Everyone listened in deferential silence, broken by 
murmurs of " Yes, yes," or " How true ! " or " I never 
thought of that ! " And Muriel held the Prince Consort's 
hand, and looked up at him with adoration in her 
young eyes. I rejoiced with the Prince Consort in his 
hour of deserved triumph, but I did not, somehow, find 
Muriel as " pretty a picture " as a lady told me later on 
that she was. Indeed, I thought that the child would 
have been as well — or better — in bed. I turned round 
and looked for Mrs Clinton. Ah, there she was, on her 
usual sofa. By her side sat Lady Troughton ; nobody 



i8o TALRS OF TWO PEOPLE 

else was near, Mrs Clinton was talking very quickly 
and vivaciously to her companion, who rose as 1 
approached, gave me her hand, and tlien passed on to 
join the group on the hearthrug. 1 sat down by Mrs 
Clinton, and began to congratulate her on her husband's 
marvellous triumph. 

"Yes," said she, "do you see he's in both the quarter- 
lies?" 

I said that such a tribute was only natural. 

"And it's selling wonderfully too," she went on. 
" You may imagine how much obliged Vincents' are to 
me for sending him there ! " 

" Did you know he was doing it ? " I asked. 

" Oh, I knew he was working at something. Muriel 
used to be always chaffing him about it." 

" She doesn't chaff him now, 1 should think," 

" No," said Mrs Clinton, twisting a ring on her finger 
round and round. Suddenly the group opened, and 
the Prince Consort came through, leading Muriel by 
the hand. He marched across the room, followed hy 
his admirers. I rose, and he stood close by his wife, 
and began to talk about her last novel. He said that 
it was wonderfully clever, and told us all to get it and 
read it. Everybody murmured that such was 
intention, and a lady observed : 

" How charming for you to be able to provide 
husband with recreation, Mrs Clinton I " 

" Papa doesn't care about novels much, really,' 
Muriel. 

"You do, I suppose, young lady ? " asked someonft? 

■' I like papa's book better," the child answered, 
we all laughed, Mrs Clinton leading the chorus with 
almost exaggerated heartiness. 

And then an enthusiastic woman must needs see 
where Mr Thompson Clinton (the Prince Consort bid 
fair to be double-barrelled before long) worked. She 
would take no denial, and at last Mrs Clinton rose, and, 
in spite of her husband's protests, led the way to 



I that 
: and 

I 

, ario^ 



THE PRINCE CONSORT i8i 

study. I had been in the room a little while before 
I went abroad. It was much changed now. A row 
of Mrs Clinton's novels, indeed, still stood on the top 
of the whatnot, but her " litter " (it had been her own 
playful name for her manuscripts and other properties) 
had vanished. Large, fat, solemn books. Blue-books, 
books of science, of statistics, and other horrors dom- 
inated the scene. 

"And to think that the great book was actually 
written in this very room ! " mused the enthusiastic 
woman in awestruck accents. " I shall always be glad 
to have seen it" 

Again we murmured assent; and the enthusiastic 
woman, with an obviously sudden remembrance of Mrs 
Clinton, turned to her, and said : 

" Of course you don't work in the same room ? " 

" Oh, I do my little writing anywhere," smiled Mrs 
Clinton. 

"In the dining-room, generally," added Muriel, 
" when it's not wanted you know." 

"Ah, well, you don't need such complete quiet as 
Mr Thompson Clinton must have to think out his books, 
do you ? " asked the enthusiastic woman, with a most 
amiable smile. 

" There's plenty of thought in my wife's books," said 
the Prince Consort. 

"Oh yes, of that j^r/," conceded the enthusiastic 
woman. 

Then we went back to the drawing-room, and the 
worshippers gradually took their leave, till only Lady 
Troughton and I were left. The child Muriel looked 
at her watch. 

"Papa's got to go on to a party at the ," she 

begun. 

" There's no hurry, my dear ; no hurry at all," in- 
terposed the Prince Consort. 

" And, anyhow, I'm not going out, Muriel," said Mrs 
Clinton. " I'm not asked there, you know." 



1 82 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Yet Lady Troughton and I said " Good-bye/' The 
Prince Consort came downstairs with us, and made 
us renew our promises to procure his wife's novel. ** It's 
really a striking book," said he. "And, look here, 
Tom ; just write her a line, and tell her how much you 
like it, will you ? You're sure to like it, you know." 

Lady Troughton stopped on the doorstep, and looked 
him full in the face. She said nothing; neither did 
he. But when they shook hands I saw her squeeze 
his. Then she was good enough to offer me a lift in 
her carriage, and I handed her in and followed myself. 
We drove a quarter of a mile or so in silence, and when 
we had gone thus far Lady Troughton made what 
appeared to me to be the only remark that could 
possibly be made. 

" Poor little goose I " said Lady Troughton. 



WHAT WAS EXPECTED OF 
MISS CONSTANTINE 

I 

T)0 remember what's expected of her!" cried my 
-*-^ sister Jane. 

It was not the first time that she had uttered this 
appeal ; I daresay she had good cause for making it. 
I had started with the rude masculine idea that there 
was nothing expected — and nothing in particular to be 
expected — of the girl, except that she should please her- 
self and, when the proper time came, invite the rest of 
us to congratulate her on this achievement. 

Jane had seen the matter very differently from the 
first. She was in close touch with the Lexingtons and 
all their female friends and relatives ; she was imbued 
with their views and feelings, and was unremitting in 
her efforts to pass them on to me. At least she made 
me understand, even if I could not entirely share, what 
was felt at female headquarters; but I was not going 
to let her see that I did not want to take sides in the 
matter, and had no intention of saying anything that 
Jane could quote either to Lady Lexington or to Miss 
Constantine herself 

" What is expected of her ? " I asked carelessly, taking 
my pipe out of my mouth. 

"Nobody exactly presses her — well, there's nobody 
who has the right — but of course she feels it herself," 
Jane explained. She knitted her brows and added, " It 
must be overwhelming." 

" Then why in the world doesn't she do it ? " I asked. 
Here I was, I admit, being aggravating, in the vulgar 

183 



|84 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



I 



sense of that word. For Jane's demeanour hinted at the 
weightiest, the most disturbing reasons, and 1 had in my 
heart very little doubt about what they were. 

"Can't you see for yourself?" she snapped back 
pettishly. "You were dining there last night — have 
you no eyes ? " 

Thus adjured— and really Jane's scom is sometimes 
a little hard to bear— I set myself to recover the im- 
pressions of the dinner-party. The scene came back 
easily enough. 1 remembered that Katharine Constan- 
tine and Valentine Hare had once more been sent in 
together, and had once more sat side by side. I re- 
membered also that Lady Lexington had once more 
whispered to me, when I arrived, that the affair was 
" all but settled," and had once more said nothing about 
it when I left. 1 remembered watching the pair closely. 

True, I was placed, as a friend of the family, between 
Miss Boots, the Lexingtons' ex-govemess, and Mr 
Sharpies. Lady Lexington's latest curate (she always 
has one in tow ; some of the earlier ones are now in a 
fair way to achieve gaiters), so that there was nothing 
very likely to distract my attention from the centre of 
interest. But I should have watched them, anyhow. 
Who could be better to watch? Katharine, with her 
positive incisive beauty (there was nothing of the 
elusive about her ; some may prefer a touch of it) ; 
the assurance of manner which her beauty gave, and 
the consciousness of her thousands enhanced ; her 
instinctive assumption of being, of being most indis- 
putably, Somebody ; and to-night, as it seemed, a 
new air about her, watchful, expectant, and telling 
of excitement, even if it stopped short of nervous- 
nes.i — Katharine, with all this, had a claim to attentior} 
not seriously challenged by Miss Boots' schoolroom 
reminiscences, or Mr Sharpies' views on Church ques- 
tions of the day. 

And Valentine too, the incomparable Val! Of 
course I watched him, as t always have, when fortunal 



MISS CONSTANTINE 185 

enough to be thrown into his company, with a fascinated 
inquiring interest, asking myself always whether I was 
a believer or whether scepticism crept into my estimate. 
Val, however, demands, as the old writers were fond of 
saying, a fresh chapter to himself. He shall have it, or 
at least a section. 

But before ending this one, for the sake of symmetry 
and of my reputation for stage management, also in 
order to justify at the earliest possible moment the 
importance which Jane attached to the events of the 
evening, let me add that just beyond me, on the other 
side of Miss Boots, and consequently quite remote from 
Miss Constantine, sat a short young man with a big 
round bullet of a head : it looked as if it might be fired 
out of a cannon at a stone wall, with excellent results 
from the besiegers* point of view. This was Oliver 
Kirby, and I have to own at once that the more than 
occasional glances which Miss Constantine directed, or 
allowed to stray, towards our end of the table were 
meant, as my observation suggested before the evening 
was out, for Kirby, and not, as I had for some happy 
moments supposed, for me. I am never ashamed of 
confessing to an amiable sort of mistake like that 



II 

Without present prejudice to the question of his 
innermost personality, Val was at least a triumph of 
externals. Perhaps I should say of non-essentials — of 
things which a man might not have, and yet be intrinsi- 
cally as good a man — but, having which, he was, for all 
outside and foreign purposes, a man far more efficient. 
Val was, as I shall indicate in a moment, a bit of a 
philosopher himself, so he could not with reason object 
to being thus philosophically considered. Birth had 
been his discreet friend — a friend in setting him in the 
inner ring, among the families which survive, peaks of 



1 86 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 




aristocracy, above the flood of democracy, and arc more 
successful than Canute was in cajolingthe waves; discreet 
in so ordering descent that, unless a robust earl, his 
uncle, died prematurely, Val had time to lead the House 
of Commons (or anything of that sort) before suffering 
an involuntary ascension, which might or might not be, 
at the political moment, convenient. He had money, 
too — a competence without waiting for his uncle's shoes. 
He had no need to hunt a fortune : it was merely advis- 
able for him, and natural too, to annex one under 
temptations not necessarily unromantic Nobody could 
call Miss Constantine necessarily unromantic. 

So much for birth, with all the extraordinary start it 
gives — a handicap ofno less than fifteen years, one might 
be inclined to say, roughly generalising on a comparison 
of the chances of the "born" and of the bourgeois. 
Now, about brains. If you come to think of it brains 
were really a concession on Val's part ; he could have 
achieved the Cabinet without them — given a clever 
Prime Minister, at least. But he had them — ^just as 
splendid shop-window brains as his birth was flawless 
under the most minute Heralds' College inspection. 
There was, indeed, a lavishness about his mental en- 
dowment. He ventured to have more than one subject 
— a dangerous extravagance in a rising statesman. 
North Africa was his professional subject — his foreign 
affairs subject. But he was also a linguist, an authority 
on French plays, and a specialist on the Due de Reich- 
stadt. Also he had written a volume of literary essays ; 
and, finally, to add a sense of solidity to his intellectual 
equipment, he was a philosopher. He had written, and 
Mr Murray had published, a short book called "The 
Religion of Primitive Man." This work he evolved on 
quiet evenings in his flat off Berkeley Square in two 
months of an early winter in London. All that can be 
said about it is that it sounded very probable, and set 
forth in exceedingly eloquent language what primitive 
man ought to have believed, even if he did not, becaui ^ 




MISS CONSTANTINE 187 

it led to a most orthodox, if remote, conclusion. Whether 
he did or not, Val, and most other people, had neither 
time nor inclination to discover. That would, in fact, 
have needed a lot of reading. After all, Val might 
plead the example of some eminent metaphysicians. 

Birth, brains — ^now comes the rarest of Val's posses- 
sions, one that must be handled most delicately by one 
who would do Val justice at any cost. I mean Val's 
beauty. Val himself bore it lightly, with a debonair 
depreciation which stopped only, but definitely, short 
of unconsciousness. He had hereditary claims to it ; a 
grandmother had attracted — and by a rarer touch of 
distinction repelled— royalty. But Val made it all his 
own. A slim figure, bordering on six feet; aquiline 
features, a trifle ruddy in hue ; hands long and slender ; 
above all, perhaps, a mass of black hair touched with 
white — ever so lightly silver-clad. The greyness pro- 
claimed itself premature, and brought contrast to bear 
on the youthfulness of the face beneath — a face the 
juvenility of which survived the problems of North 
Africa and his triumphs in the d priori. Add to this, a 
fine tradition of schoolboy and university athletics, and 
— well, a way with him of which women would talk 
in moments of confidence. 

Speaking quite seriously, I cannot suppose that such 
a fascinating person has often appeared ; never, surely, 
a more decorative? And it was "all but settled*! 
Why, then, those glances toward our end of the table ? 
Because they were not for me, as I have already 
acknowledged. Kirby? The bullet-head, with its 
close-cropped wire-thick hair? Could that draw her 
eyes from the glories of Val's sable-silver crown? 
These things are unaccountable ; such really appeared 
to be the case. 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



III 

After dinner I used the freedom of old acquaintance 
to asW Lady Lexington precisely what she meant by 
saying that it — the alliance between Miss Constantine 
and Valentine Hare — was "all but settled." We 
chanced to be alone in the small drawing-room ; 
through the curtained archway we could see the rest of 
the company formed into groups, Val was again by 
Miss Constantine's side ; Kirby was now standing 
facing them, and apparently doing most of the talking. 

"He hasn't asked her in so many words yet," said 
Lady Lexington; "but he will soon, of course. It's 
been practically settled ever since she came to stay here 
— after her father's death, you know. And it's an ideal 
arrangement." 

" Suppose she refuses him ? " 

" I sha'n't suppose anything so ridiculous, George," 
said my friend sharply. " I hope I have more sense ! 
What girl would refuse Valentine?" '" 

" It would be heterodox," I admitted. 

" It would be lunacy, stark lunacy. Even for her— 
admit she has a right to look high — but even for her i1 
will be a fine match. He's got everything before him. 
And then look how handsome, how fascinating he is!" 
She laughed. "Old as I am, I wouldn't trust myself 
with him, George ! " 

"I haven't met Kirby here before," I observed, | 
haps rather abruptly. 

"Mr Kirby? Oh, he's quite a prot/gi of Frank's,' 
We met him in Switzerland last winter, and Frank and 
he did all sorts of unsafe things together — things you 
oughtn't to do in winter." 

" He probably stops the avalanches with his head." 

" I really don't know where he comes from or who 
he is, but he's in the Colonial Office, and Frank says 
they think enormous things of him ther 



MISS CONSTANTINE 189 

but, do you know, he's rather hard to keep up a con- 
versation with. He always seems to say the last thing 
about a subject first" 

" Very bad economy," I agreed. 

"Some people — well, I have heard people say it's 
hardly polite — when they're just thinking of something 
to say themselves, you know " 

" He probably can't help it," I pleaded. 

** Katharine seems to like him, though, and I daresay 
she'll get Val to give him a lift in the future." 

" You're treating it as quite settled." 

"Well, it really is; I feel sure of that It might 

happen any Why, look there, George ! Suppose 

it happened to-night 1 " 

Lady Lexington's air of pleasurable flutter was 
occasioned by a inovement in the next room. Miss 
Constaiitine was passing from the drawing-room into 
the library beyond, Val holding the door for her. 
Kirby had not moved, but now stood looking at her 
with a smile. Just as she passed through the door she 
turned, looked at him, and made the slightest little 
grimace. I read it as defiance — playful defiance. 
Whether I was right in that or not, it was, beyond 
all doubt, a confidential communication of some sort. 
If "it" were indeed going to be "settled," the moment 
seemed an odd one for the exchange of that secret 
signal with Mr Kirby ; for her grimace was in answer 
to his smile, his smile the challenge that elicited her 
grimace. Yes, they were in communication. What 
about? I got no further than an impression that it was 
about Valentine Hare. I remembered the glances at 
dinner, and mentally corrected the little misapprehen- 
sion which I have already acknowledged. But had the 
signals been going on all the evening ? About Valentine 
Hare? 

" I shall wait for news with great interest," I said to 
Lady Lexington. 

She made no direct answer. Looking at her, I per- 



190 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



ceived that she was frowning ; she appeared, indeed, 
decidedly put out. 

"After all," she said reflectively, "I'm not sure I do 
like Mr Kirby. He's rather familiar. I wonder why 
Frank brings him here so much." 

From which I could not help concluding that she, 
too, had perceived the glances toward my end of the 
table, Kirby's smile,and Katharine Constantine's answer- 
ing grimace. From that moment, I believe, a horrible 
doubt, an apprehension of almost incredible danj 
began to stir in her mind. This, confided to Jane^ 
inspired my sister's gloomily significant manner. 



IV 






A WEEK passed by without my getting any news fr 
Lady Lexington. My next advices came, in fact, from 
Jane. One morning she burst into my room when I 
was reading the paper after breakfast. I had been out 
late the night before, and had not seen her since yester- 
day at lunch. Her present state of excitement was 
obvious. 

" She's asked for time to consider 1 " she cried. 
"Imagine! " 

"The dickens she has!" I exclaimed. Of course I 
guessed to whom she was referring. 

"Ah, I thought that would startle you!" Jane re- 
marked, with much gratification. " I was at the Lexing- 
tons' yesterday. She is queer." 

I saw that Jane wanted me to ask questions, but I 
always prefer having gossip volunteered to me; it 
seems more dignified, and one very seldom loses any- 
thing in the end. So I just nodded, and relighted my 
pipe, Jane smiled scornfully, 

" You'll go there yourself to-day," she said. " 1 know 
you." 



" I was going, anyhow — to pay my din 



rcalL" 



MISS CONSTANTINE 191 

" Of course ! " She was satisfied with the effect of 
her sarcasm — I think I had betrayed signs of confusion 
— and went on gravely : " You can imagine how upset 
they all are." 

" But she only proposes to consider." 

" Well, it's not very flattering to be considered^ is it ? 
* I'll consider ' — that's what one says to get out of the 
shop when a thing costs too much." 

I had to ask one question. I did it as carelessly as 
possible. ''Did you happen to see Miss Constantine 
herself?" 

" Oh yes ; I saw Katharine. I saw her, because she 
was in the room part of the time, and I'm not blind," 
said Jane crossly. 

" I gather that she hardly took you into her full — ^her 
inner— confidence ? " 

Jane's reply was impolite in form, but answered my 
question substantially in the affirmative. She added : 
" Lady Lexington told me that she won't say a word 
about her reasons. You won't find it a cheerful house- 
hold." 

I did not Jane was right there. I daresay my own 
cheerfulness was artificial and spasmodic: the atmos- 
phere of a family crisis is apt to communicate itself to 
guests. It must not be understood that the Lexingtons, 
or Miss Boots, or Mr Sharpies, who was there again, 
were other than perfectly kind to Katharine. On the 
contrary, they overdid their kindness — overdid it 
portentously, in my opinion. They treated her as 
though she were afflicted with a disease of the nerves, 
and must on no account be worried or thwarted. If 
she had said that the moon was made of green cheese 
they would have evaded a direct contradiction — they 
might just have hinted at a shade of blue. She saw this ; 
I can quite understand that it annoyed her very much. 
For the rest, Lady Lexington's demeanour set the cue : 
''It must end all right ; meanwhile we must bear it" 

She and Mr Sharpies and Miss Boots were all going 



192 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



to an afternoon drawing-room meeting, but I was asked 
to stay and have tea, "You'll give him a cup of tea, 
won't you, Katharine?" And did my ears deceive me, 
or did Lady Lexington breathe into my ear, as she 
shook hands, the words, " If you could say a word — 
tactfully ! " ? I believe she did ; but Jane says I dreamed 
it — or made it up, more likely. If she did say it, it 
argued powerfully for her distress. 

I had known Katharine Constantine pretty well for 
three or four years; I had, indeed, some claim to call 
myself her friend. All the same, I did not see my way 
to broach the engrossing subject to her, and I hardly 
expected her to touch on it in talk with me. My idea 
was to prattle, to distract her mind with gossip about 
other people. But she was, I think, at the end of her 
patience both with herself and with her friends. Her 
laugh was defiant as she said : 

"Of course you know all about it? Jane has told 
you ? And of course you're dying to tell me I'm a 
fool — as all the rest of them do 1 At any rate, they ' 
me see they think it." 

"I don't want to talk about it. Let's talk of 

thing else. I've got no right " 

" I give you the right. You're interested ? 
" Oh, I can't deny that, I'm human." 
She was looking very attractive to-day ; her per- 
plexity and worry seemed to soften her; an unwonted 
air of appeal mitigated her assurance of manner ; she 
was pleasanter when she was not so confident of herself. 
" Well, I should rather like to put the case to a sen- 
sible man — and we'll suppose you to be one for the 
moment." She laughed more gently as I bowed my 
thanks. " On the one side is what's expected of me " 
"Jane's phrase!" 1 thought to myself 
" What all the world thinks, what I've thought for a 
long while myself, what he thinks — in fact, everything. 
And. I tell you, it's a good deal. It is even '' 
isn't it ? " 



I'm a 
leyky 

^-1 



MISS CONSTANTINE 193 

" What's expected of us ? Yes^ Only unusual men 
can disregard that." 

"It's worse with women — the weight of it is much 
heavier with women. And am I to consider myself 
unusual ? Besides, I do like him enormously." 

" I was wondering when you would touch on that 
point It seems to me important" 

" Enormously. Who wouldn't ? Everybody must 
Not for his looks or his charm only. He's a real good 
sort too, Mr Wynne. A woman could trust her heart 
with him." 

" I've always believed he was a good sort — and, of 
course, very brilliant — a great career before him — and 
all that." She said nothing for a moment, and I re- 
peated thoughtfully: ''Astonishingly brilliant, to be 
sure, isn't he ? " 

She nodded at me, smiling. " Yes, that's the word 
— brilliant." She was looking at me very intently. 
" What more hare you to say ? " she asked. 

" A good heart — a great position — a brilliant intellect 
— ^well, what more is there to say ? Unless you permit 
me to say that ladies are sometimes — as they have 
a perfect right to be — ^hard to please." 

"Yes, J[*m hard to please." Her smile came again, 
this time thoughtful, reminiscent, amused^ almost, I 
could fancy, tender. " I've been spoilt lately," sh^ 
said. Then she stole a quick glance at me, flushing 
a little. 

I grew more interested in her ; I think I may say 
more worthily interested. I knew what she meant — 
whom she was thinking of. I passed the narrow yet 
significant line that divides gossip about people from 
an interest in one's friends or a curiosity about the 
human mind. Or so I liked to put it to myself. 

" I must talk," she said. " Is it very strange of me 
to talk ? " 

"Talk away. I hear, or I don't hear, just as you 
wish. Anyhow, I don't repeat" 

N 




TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



-we all do. But the 



"That is your point, you men! Well, if it were 
between a great man and a nobody? " 

"The great man I know- 
nobody? I don't know him." 

" Don't you ? I think you do ; or perhaps you know 
neither? If the world and I meant just the opposite?" 

She was standing now, very erect, proud, excited. 

"It's a bad thing to mean just the opposite fFom 
what the world means," I said. 

"Bad? Or only hard?" she asked. "God knows 
it's hard enough," 

"There's the consolation of the — spoiling," 1 sug- 
gested. " Who spoils you, the great man or the 
nobody?" 

She paid no visible heed to my question. Indeed 
she seemed for the moment unconscious of me. It was 
October; a small bright fire burned on the hearth- 
She turned to it, stretching out her hands to the warmth. 
She spoke, and I listened. " It would be a fine thing," 
she said, "to be the first to believe — the first to give 
evidence of belief — perhaps the finest thing to be the 
first and last — to be the only one to give everything 
one had in evidence." She faced round on me sud- 
denly. " Everything — if one dared I " , 

" If you were very sure " I began. 

"No I" she interrupted. "Say, if I had courage — 
courage to defy, courage for a great venture .' " 

" Yes. it's better put like that" 

" But people don't realise — indeed they don't — how 
much it needs." 

" I think I realise it a little better." She made no 
comment on that, and I held out my hand. " I should 
like to help, you know," 1 said, " but I expect you've 
got to fight it out alone." 

She pressed my hand in a very friendly way, saying, 
" Any single human being's sympathy helps." 

That was not, perhaps, a very flattering remark, but 
it seemed to me pathetic, coming from the prou<J, 



MISS CONSTANTINE 195 

rich, the beautiful Miss Constantine. To this she was 
reduced in her struggle against her mighty foe. Any 
ally, however humble, was precious in her fight against 
what was expected of her. 



Miss Constantine's suppression of names, and her 
studious use of the hypothetical mood in putting her 
case, forbade me saying she had told me that in her 
opinion Valentine Hare was a nobody and Oliver 
Kirby a great man, although the world might be pleased 
to hold just the opposite view. Still less had she told 
me that, in consequence of this opinion of hers, she 
would let the nobody go and cling to the great man ; she 
had merely discerned and pictured that course of action 
as being a very splendid and a very brave thing — more 
splendid and brave, just in proportion to the world's lack 
of understanding. Whether she would do it remained 
exceedingly doubtful ; there was that heavy weight of 
what was expected of her. But what she had done, by 
the revelation of her feelings, was to render the problem 
of whether she would embrace her great venture or 
forgo it one of much interest to me. The question of 
her moral courage remained open ; but there was now 
no question as to her intellectual courage. Her brain 
could see and dared to see — whether or not she would 
dare to be guided by its eyes. Her achievement was 
really considerable — to look so plainly, so clearly and 
straight, through all externals ; to pierce behind incom- 
parable Val's shop-window accomplishments, his North 
Africa, his linguistic accomplishments. Due de Reich- 
stadt, French plays, literary essays, even his supremely 
plausible and persuasive " Religion of Primitive Man " 
(which did look so solid on a first consideration) — to 
go right by all these, and ask what was the real value 
of the stock in the recesses of the shop I And, con- 



igfi TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

versely, to pick up bullet-headed Kirby from the roi _ _ 
side, so to speak, to find in him greatness, to be " spoilt'' 
(she, the rich, courted beauty) by being allowed to hear 
the thuds of his sledge-hammer mind, to dream of 
giving " everything " to his plain form and face because 
of the mind they clothed, to think that thing the great 
thing to do, if she dared — yes, she herself stood revealed 
as a somewhat uncommon young woman. 

Her appraisement of Val I was not inclined to 
dispute ; it coincided with certain suspicions which I 
myself had shamefacedly entertained, but had never 
found courage to express openly. But was she right 
about Kirby? Had we here the rare "great man"? 
Concede to her that we had, her case was stil! a hard 
one. Kirby had no start ; he was in a rut, if I may say 
so with unfeigned respect to the distinguished service 
to which he belonged — an honourable useful rut, but, 
so far as personal glory or the prospects of it went, a 
rut, all the same. Unless some rare chance came — they 
do come now and then, but it was ill to gamble on one 
here — his main function would be to do the work, to 
supply the knowledge secretly, perhaps to shape a 
policy some day in the future ; but tulil alltr honores. 
Not to him would the public raise their cheers, and 
posterity a statue. Her worship of him must be, in 
all likelihood, solitary, despised, and without reward. 
Would it be appreciated as it ought to be by her hero 
himself? But here, perhaps, 1 could not get thoroughly 
into the skin of the devotee ; the god is not expected to 
be overwhelmed by his altars and his sacrifices — his 
divinityship is merely satisfied. 

"Mr Hare is behaving splendidly," Jane reported to 
me. She had a constant — apparently a daily — report 
of him from Lady Lexington, his unremitting cham- 
pion. Indeed the women were all on his side, and it 
was surprising how many of them seemed to know his 
position; I cannot help thinking that Val. in his turn, 
had succumbed to the temptations of sympathy. Thi 



MISS CONSTANTINE 197 

spoke of him as of a man patient under wrong, amiable 
and forgiving through it all, puzzled, bewildered, in- 
evitably hurt, yet with his love unimpaired and his for- 
giveness ready. 

" Do you suppose," I asked Jane, " that he's got any 
theory why she hesitates ? " 

"Theory! Who wants a theory? We all know 
why." 

* * Oh, you do, do you ? " My " exclusive information " 
seemed a good deal cheapened. "Has she told you, 
may I ask ? " 

" Not she ; but she goes every afternoon, just after 
lunch, to Mrs Something Simpson's — that's the man's 
aunt She lives in a flat in Westminster, and he goes 
from his ofiice to lunch at his aunt's every day, now." 

While I had been musing, Jane had been getting at 
the facts. 

" Val knows that ? " 

"Of course Ladv Lexington told him. Let's have 
fair play, anyhow I ' said Jane rather hotly. 

" What does he say about it ? " 

"He's perfectly kind and sweet; but he can't, of 
course, quite conceal that he's " — Jane paused, seeking 
a word. She flung her hands out in an expressive 
gesture, and let me have it — ^" Stupefied ! " A moment 
later she added, " So are we all, if it comes to that" 

"If one dared!" Katharine Constantine's words 
came back. They were all stupefied at the idea. 
Would she dare to pile stupefaction on stupefaction 
by confronting them with the fact ? 

In the course of the next few days the Powers That 
Be in the land took a hand — doubtless an entirely un- 
conscious one — in the game. A peer died; his son, 
going up to the House of Lords, vacated the post of 
Under-Secretary for the Colonies. Amid a chorus of 
applause and of flattering prophecies Valentine Hare 
was appointed in his place. I met, at one of my clubs, 
a young friend who had recently entered the Colonial 



198 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Oilice, and he told me that the new member of the 
Administration's secretary would in all probability be 
Oliver Kirby. " And it'll give him a bit of a chance 
to show what's he's made of," said my young friend, 
with the kindly patronage of youth. 

But, under present circumstances, it might create a 
slight awkwardness, say, about lunch-time, mightn't it ? 
I doubted whether that appointment would be made. 



VI 

Now I come to my share in this history. I confess 
that I approach it with doubt and trembling; but it 
has to be told here. It will never be told anywhere 
else — certainly not at the Lexingtons', nor above all, 
for my peace' sake, to my sister Jane. 

The following day was a Sunday, and, according to 
a not infrequent practice of mine, I took a walk in 
Hyde Park in the morning — in the early hours before 
the crowd turned out. The place was almost deserted, 
for the weather was raw and chilly ; but there, by some 
supernatural interposition as I am convinced, whether 
benign or malignant only the passage of years can 
show, in a chair at the corner of the Row sat Oliver 
Kirby. I stopped before him and said " Hallo I " 

I had forgotten how entirely formal our previous 
acquaintance had been, perhaps because I had been 
thinking about him so much. 

He greeted me cordially, indeed gladly, as I fancied, 
and, when I objected to sitting in the chilly air, he 
proposed to share my walk. I mentioned the secretary- 
ship, remarking that I understood it was a good thing 
for a man to get He shrugged his shoulders, then 
turned to me, and said, with a sudden twinkle lighting 
up his eyes, "One might be able to keep our friend 
straight, perhaps." 

" You think he needs it ? " 



MISS CONSTANTINE 199 

" It's only a matter of time for that man to come a 
cropper. The first big affair he gets to handle, look 
out ! Tm not prejudiced. He's a very good fellow, 
and I like him — besides being amused at him. But 
what I say is true." He spoke with an uncanny 
certainty, 

" What makes you say it ? " 

Kirby took my arm. " The man is constitutionally 
incapable of thinking in the right order. It's always 
the same with him, I don't care whether it's an article 
about North Africa or that book of his about primitive 
man. He always — not occasionally, but always — starts 
with his conclusion and works backwards to the premises. 
North Africa ought to be that shape — it is 1 Primitive 
man ought to have thought that — he did ! You see ? 
The result is that the facts have to adapt themselves 
to these conclusions of his. Now that habit of mind, 
Wynne, makes a man who has to do with public affairs 
a dangerous and pernicious fool. He oughtn't to be 
allowed about. What, I should like to know, does he 
think the Almighty made facts for ! Not to be looked 
at, evidently ! " 

I was much refreshed by this lively indignation of 
the intellect. But, "You're quite sure you're not 
prejudiced ? " said I. 

" I said it all in a review of his book before I ever 
met him, or came into—" 

" Conflict with him ? " I ventured to interpose. 

He looked at me gravely. I thought he was going 
to tell me to mind my own business. I have so little 
that I never welcome that injunction. Then he smiled. 

" I forgot that I'd met you at the Lexingtons'," he 
said. 

" I don't think you need have told me that you'd 
forgotten." 

" Well, I had," said he, staring a little. 

" But you needn't have said so — needn't have put it 
that way." 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



a new ^ 



"Oh!" He seemed to be considering quite a. t 
point of view. 

" Not that I'm offended. I only point it out for v 
good. You expect people to be too much like J 
The rest of us have feelings " 

" I've feelings, Wynne," he interrupted quickly. 

" Fancies " 

" Ah, well — perhaps those too, sometimes." 

" Fears " 

He squeezed my arm. " You've struck me the right 
morning," he said. 

"Think what you're asking of — the person we mean." 

"She's to give me her answer after lunch to-day." 

"1 believe it will be 'No' — unless you can do some- 
thing." 

He looked at me searchingly, " What's in your 
mind?" he asked. "Out with it! This is a big thing 
to me, you know." 

" It's a big thing to her. I know it is. Yes, she has 
said something to me. But I think she'll say 'No,' 
unless — well, unless you treat her as you want Val 
Hare to treat North .'\frica and primitive man. Apply 
your own rules, my friend. Reason in the right order ! " 

He smiled grimly. "Develop that a little," he re- 
quested, or, rather, ordered. 

" It's not your feelings, or your traditions, or your 
surroundings, that count now. And it's not what you 
think she ought to feel, nor what she ought as a fact to 
feel, nor even what's she's telling herself she ought to 
be brave enough and strong enough to feel. It's what 
she must feel, has been bred to feel, and in the end 
does feel. What she does feel will beat you unless you 
find a way out.". 

" What does she feel ? " 

" That it's failure, and that all the other girls will say 
so — failure in the one great opportunity of her life, in 
the one great thing that's expected of her; that it's 
final; that she must live all her life a failure among 



MISS CONSTANTINE 201 

those who looked to her for a great success. And 
the others will make successes ! Would it be a small 
thing for a man ? What is it to a girl ? " 

"A failure, to marry me? You mean she feels 
that?" 

" Facts, please ! Again facts ! Not what you think 
you are, or are sure you are, or are convinced you could 
be; just what you are — Mr Kirby of the Colonial 
Office, lately promoted — it is promotion, isn't it? — to 
be secretary to—" 

" Stop ! I just want to run over all that," he said. 

At, and from, this point I limit my liability. I had 
managed to point out — it really was not easy to set 
up to tell him things — where I thought he was wrong. 
Somehow, amid my trepidation, I was aware of a pleas- 
ure in talking to a splendidly open and candid mind. 
He was surprised that he had been wrong — that touch 
of a somewhat attractive arrogance there was about 
him — but the mere suspicion of being wrong made him 
attentive to the uttermost. Tell him he hadn't observed 
his facts, and he wouldn't, he couldn't, rest till he had 
substantiated, or you had withdrawn, the imputation. 
But, as I say, to suggest the mistake was all I did. I 
had no precise remedy ready ; I believe I had only a 
hazy idea of what might be done by a more sympathetic 
demeanour, a more ample acknowledgment of Miss Con- 
stant! ne's sacrifice — a notion that she might do the big 
thing if he made her think it the enormous thing ; aren't 
even girls like that sometimes ? The sower of the seed 
is entitled to some credit for the crop ; after all, though, 
the ground does more. I take none too much credit 
for my hint, nor desire to take too much responsibility. 

He caught me by the arm and pulled me down on to 
a bench — a free seat just by the east end of the Serpen- 
tine. 

" Yes, I see," he said. " I've been an ass. Just since 
you spoke, it's all come before me — in a sort of way it 
grew up in my mind. I know how she feels now — both 



202 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

ways. 1 only knew how she felt about my end of the 
thing before. I was antagonistic to the other thing, 
I couldn't see Val as a sort of Westminster Abbey 
for the living — that's the truth. Never be antagonistic 
to facts — you've taught me that lesson once more, 
Wynne." He broke into a sudden amused smile. " I 
say, if your meddling is generally as useful as it has 
been to me, I don't see why you shouldn't go on medd- 
ling, old chap." 

I let that pass, though I should have preferred some 
such word as " interpose " or " intervene," or " act as an 
intermediary." I slill consider that I had been in some 
sense invited — well, at any rate, tempted — to — well, 
I have suggested, intervene. 

" What are you going to do ? " I asked. 

"Settle it," replied Mr Oliver Kirby, rising from 
bench. 

He might have been a little more communicative. 
It is possible to suggest that. As a matter of fact, he 
was the best part of the way to Hyde Park Corner 
before I realised that 1 was sitting alone on the 
bench. 



tfl^H 



VII 



Had Kirby been at my elbow, his bullet head alni( 
audibly pricing my actions, relentlessly assessing them, 
even while he admitted that they had done him good, 
I imagine that I should not have gone. His epithet 
rankled, I a meddler! I can only say that it is a 
fortunate circumstance that he never knew Jane, 

However, I did call on Lady Lexington that after- 
noon, and found just a snug family party — that was 
what my hostess called it. In fact, besides myself, the 
only outsider was Valentine Hare; and could he be 
called an outsider? His precise appellation 
suspense. Talk was intimate and bright. 



ftS^ 



MISS CONSTANTINE 203 

In view of VaFs appointment, it was natural that it 
should turn on the Colonies. Val himself hinted that 
the Foreign Office would have given more scope for his 
specialty (he meant North Africa, not the " Religion of 
Primitive Man " ) ; but Miss Constantine was hot on the 
Colonies, going so far, indeed, as to get out an atlas and 
discuss thousands of square miles, and wheat belts, and 
things like that. Once or twice I fancied that the new 
Under-Secretary would have been glad not to be quite 
so new ; a few days of coaching from, say, Kirby (Had 
she had — ? At lunch ? No ; it was hardly thinkable ; he 
couldn't have taken that moment to instruct her) would 
have equipped him better for her excellently informed 
conversation. As for poor Lexington, he broke down 
entirely when she got out to Assiniboia and Saskatche- 
wan, and said frankly that in his opinion there was 
more of Canada than any man could be expected to 
know about. That did not seem to be at all Miss 
Constantine's view. She was stopped only by the 
ocean. I am not sure that a vaulting ambition did not 
confederate Japan. 

Val was delighted. Miss Constantine was so cordial, 
so interested, so congratulatory on his appointment. 
There was, as it seemed to me, a serenity in her manner 
which had recently been lacking — a return of her old 
assurance, softened still, but not now by the air of 
appeal ; it was rather by an extreme friendliness. Val 
must have felt the friendliness too, I think, for he 
expanded wonderfully, discoursing with marvellous 
fecundity, and with a knowledge as extensive as it was 
indefinite, of the British possessions beyond the seas. 
All said and done, he knew a lot more than I did ; but, 
then, I was not his competitor. 

So we got on splendidly together. Lady Lexington 
beamed, her lord warmed himself happily. Miss Con- 
stantine was graciousness itself, Val basked and blos- 
somed — and I wondered what the deuce had happened 
at Mrs Something Simpson's flat in Westminster. 



204 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE ^M 

(Her real name was Whitaker Simpson, and I believe 
Jane knew it quite well.) 

Yes, she was monstrously friendly — distrust that in 
your mistress whether wooed or won. She would do 
everything for Val that afternoon, except be left alone 
with him. The Lexingtons went — you can hardly stop 
people going in their own house ; Miss Boots and Mr 
Sharpies, who were both there, went — to church. I 
tried to go, but she wouldn't let me. Her refusal was 
quite obvious: Val — he was impeccable in manners — 
saw it. After precisely the right interval he rose and 
took his leave. I had the atlas on my knees then (we 
had got back to Assiniboia), and I studied it hard ; but, 
honestly, I couldn't help hearing. The tones of her 
voice, at least, hinted at no desire for privacy. 

" Once more a thousand congratulations — a thousand 
hopes for your success," she said, giving him her hand, 
as I suppose — my eyes were on the atlas. 

" After that, I shall feel I'm working for you," he 
replied gallantly. No doubt his very fine eyes pointed 
the remark. 

"Shall you?" she said, and laughed a little. "Oh, 
you'll — I'll write you a note quite soon — to-morrow or 
Tuesday. I won't forget. And — good-bye ! " 

"To-morrow or Tuesday? That's certain?" His 
voice had an eagerness in it now. 

" Yes, certain. I won't forget. And — good-bye ! " 

" Good-bye ! " he said, and I heard the door open. 

" A thousand hopes ! " she said again, 

I suppose he made some response, but in words he 
made none. The door closed behind him. 

I put the atlas on the sofa by me, got up, and went to 
her. 

" I suppose I may go now, too ? " I said. 

" How clever you're growing, Mr Wynne! But just 
let him get out of the house. We mustn't give it 
away." 

A moment or two we stood in silence. Then she 



MISS CONSTANTINE 205 

said : '' You understand things. You shall have a 
note too — and a thousand hopes. And — good-bye ! " 

Not a suspicion of the meaning of this afternoon's 
scene crossed my mind, which fact proved me, I dare- 
say, to be very stupid. But Val was hardly likely to 
see more clearly, and I can't altogether justify the play 
she made with the atlas and Assiniboia. As an exer- 
cise in irony, however, it had its point. 



VIII 

I DO not know what was in Val's note : more of good- 
bye, and more than a thousand hopes, I imagine. Is it 
fanciful to mark that she had always said ** hope " and 
never "confidence"? Mine bade me be at a certain 
comer of a certain street at eleven-thirty. "Where 
you will find me. Say nothing about it" It was a 
little hard to say nothing whatever to Jane. 

I went and met them at the corner — Mrs Something 
Simpson, Kirby, and Miss Constantine. Thence we 
repaired to a registry office, and they (I do not include 
Mrs Simpson) were married. They were to sail from 
Liverpool that afternoon, and we went straight from 
the office to Euston. I think it was only when the 
question of luggage arose that I gasped out, " Where 
are you going ? " 

" To Canada," said Kirby briskly. 

" For your trip ? " 

" For good and all," he answered. " I've got leave — 
and sent in my resignation." 

"And I've sent in my resignation too," she 
said. " Mr Wynne, try to think of me as only half a 
coward." 

" I — I don't understand," I stammered. 

" But it's your own doing," he said. " Over there she 
won't be a failure all her life I " 



2o6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" Not because I've married him, at any rate," Katharine 
said, looking very happy. 

" I told you I should settle it — and so I did," Kirby 
added. " And I'm grateful to you. I'm always grate- 
ful to a fellow who makes me understand." 

** Good heavens ! " I cried. " You're not making me 
responsible ? " 

" For all that follows ! " she answered, with a merry 
laugh. "Yes!" 

That's all very well, but suppose he gets to the top of 
the tree, as the fellow will, and issues a Declaration of 
Independence? At least he'll be Premier, and come 
over to a conference some day. Val will be Secretary 
for the Colonies, probably (unless he has come that 
cropper). There's a situation for you! Well, I shall 
just leave town. I daresay I sha'n't be missed. 

Lady Lexington carried it off well. She said that, 
from a strain of romance she had observed in the girl, 
the marriage was just what was to be expected of 
Katharine Constantine. 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 

I 

" AA/'H AT did he get ? " I asked. I had been work- 

^ ^ ing in my own room all the morning and had 
not seen the papers — they arrived from London about 
half-past eleven. 

"Seven years' penal servitude," said our host the 
Major with grim satisfaction. 

" Stiff I " I commented. 

"Not a bit too much," asserted the Major, helping 
himself to game pie again — he is a good luncher. 
" He's a thoroughly bad lot — a professional thief, and 
a deuced clever one. It's his first conviction, but it 
ought to have been his tenth, I should say." 

"He was certainly in that big American bond 
robbery," said Crookes, " though he got off that time. 
Oxford man, wasn't he ? " 

" Yes. In fact, I believe I was up one term with him," 
said Millington. " I must have seen him, I think, but 
I can't remember him." 

"Dear, dear!" our hostess observed, shocked ap- 
parently at this close proximity to the criminal 
classes. 

" Rather good what the chap said when he'd been 
sentenced," drawled Charlie Pryce. " See it ? Well, he 
bowed to the judge, and then he bowed to the jury, and 
smiled, and shrugged his shoulders, and said: 'The 
risks of the profession, gentlemen ! Au revoirf Jolly 
good cheek ! " Charlie's round red face — he is very well 
nourished, as they say at inquests — beamed almost 
sympathetically. 

207 



2o8 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" I suppose he owes his nickname to his professional 
dexterity?" said I. 

" Suppose so," agreed Charlie, 

" No," said Mrs Pryce, who was at the other end of 
the table. " His name is James " 

"Yes, James Painter Walsh," interposed the Major, 
accurate always. 

"But he was called 'Slim-Fingered' because he had 
beautiful hands with very slender tapering fingers." 

" Hallo, Minnie ! " cried Pryce. " How do you know 
that ? " 

" He told me himself," she answered with a smile and 
the hint of a blush. " I crossed from America with him 
the time he was arrested at Queenstown for the bond 
robbery, and — well, we got acquainted. Of course, 
nobody knew who he was." 

A torrent of questions overwhelmed Mrs Pryce. She 
had achieved fame — she had known the hero of the last 
great jewel robbery. She spoke of him from first- 
hand knowledge. The unrivalled attraction of crime — 
crime in the grand manner — fascinates us all. But she 
wouldn't say much. 

" He was just an acquaintance for the voyage," she 
told us; "though, of course, it was rather a shock when 
he was arrested at Queenstown." 

"Oh, what a surprise!" exclaimed Charlie Pryce 
jovially. 

" A surprise ? " She seemed to me to start ever so 
little. " Oh yes, of course — terrible ! " she went on the 
next instant. 

" Was he nice ? " asked our hostess. 

"Yes, he was very — very attractive," she answered. 
And somehow I fancy her glance rested for a moment 
on her husband — indeed on a particular portion of him. 
Charlie was just lighting the after-lunch cigarette. 
Charlie's hands — he is a very good fellow and well off — 
are decidedly red and particularly podgy. 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 209 



II 

I LIKED Mrs Pryce very much. She was pretty, dainty, 
bright, and — well, bachelors are so apt to think that 
pretty married women have a dull time at home that I 
will lay no stress on my own private opinion as to her 
domestic lot. Enough that I was always glad to talk 
with her, and that it was pleasant to walk with her in 
the Major's quiet old garden on a fine night when the 
wind stirred the boughs and the moon shone. Inside 
they had taken to pool — and whisky-and-soda. I play 
the former badly, and take the latter when the evening 
is more advanced. 

" Beautiful moon ! " I observed, enjoying Nature, my 
company, and my cigar. 

She was silent a moment. Then she said : '' It shone 
just like that the third night out from New York." 

" Your last trip ? " She crosses pretty often, as Charlie 
has business connections on the other side. 

" No. The one when — the one we were talking about 
at lunch." 

" Ah ! When our friend of the slim fingers ^ " 

" Yes." 

" Let's sit down>" I suggested. We were just passing 
a garden seat. 

She smiled at me half sadly, half mockingly. She 
saw through me; she knew I wanted to hear more 
about it. By some sort of sympathy I knew that she 
wanted to talk about it. It was queer, too, to consider 
through what window that moon was shining on Slim- 
Fingered Jim. Did it — and his other surroundings — 
remind him of the broad Atlantic ? " The risks of the 
profession, gentlemen ! " 

''Yes, he had beautiful hands," she murmured. 

" What'll they look like when ? " 

She caught my hand sharply in hers. " Hush, hush ! " 
she whispered. I felt ashamed of myself, but of course 



% 



2IO TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

I couldn't have known that — well, that she'd feel it like 
that. 

" I was quite a girl," she went on presently. " Yes, 
it's six years ago — and the first two days of that voyage 
were like days in heaven. You know what it can be 
when it's fine? You seem never to have known what 
space was before — and bigness — and blueness. Do you 
know what 1 mean?" 

" It's very exhilarating." 

" Oh, don't be silly ! Of course nobody was iU-rri 
anyhow only the people who meant to be before 
started — and we had an awfully jolly table." 

" Mr Walsh one of your party ? " 

" Yes, he was at our table. I — sat next to him." 

I turned half round and looked at her. The moon 
was strong, I could see her eyes. 

" Look here, do you want to go on with this story ? " 
I asked. 

" Yes, I think so — I've never told it before. But 
perhaps I'll skip a little of it" 

" At the beginning ? " 

" Yes. Will you imagine the sun shining by day and 
the moon by night ? " 

" Yes. And a sparkling sea ? And nothing to do 

" Yes. And a young girl — quite a young girl." 

" Yes. And beautiful hands — and the rest 
match ? " 

" Yc3 — including a voice." 

"Yes. Let's skip to the second evening, shall 
Mrs Pryce?" 

" Will you be a little more imaginative and ski 
the third afternoon ? " 

"The third afternoon be it. What's happening 
we begin the story again ?" 

"I'm in my mother's state-room, getting a trei 
ous lecture. I'm not sure you ought to hear it" 

"Oh, I know all about it. You meant no 
probably, but really it was time you learnt to be 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 211 

eyeful. Attractive girls couldn't be too careful. Men 
were so ready to think this and that — and say this and 
that — and then go and boast about it in the smoking- 
room. And what did you or your mother know about 
him? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! No doubt he 
was a gentleman, and very pleasant and amusing — but 
really you knew nothing. He was probably an ad- 
venturer. And anyhow — well, really it wasn't quite — 
not quite — ladylike to — to " 

" Yes, that's not a bad imagination," interrupted Mrs 
Pryce. "Add mamma's pince-nez, and it's quite life- 
like." 

" And the result ? " 

" Great constraint in my manner towards Mr Walsh 
at dinner that evening." 

** And — further result — a melancholy walk by you on 
the deck after dinner — a walk at first solitary — subse- 
quently shared by a puzzled and humble Mr Walsh ? " 

"I begin to think you have more experience than 
you always admit," said Mrs Pryce. "But I think 
you'll go wrong if you try to guess any more." 

" Then I won't g^ess any more. Take up the thread. 
It's now the third night out, and the moon is shining 
like that." I pointed to the orb which was illuminating 
the Major's garden — among other places where sundry 
of that liner's former passengers might chance to be. 

" I'll go on," she said, " and don't interrupt me for a 
little while. There was a very light wind — you hardly 
felt it aft — and I was standing looking over the sea. 
He came up to me and began to talk about some trifle 
— I forget what it was, but it doesn't matter. But 
I was afraid mamma would come up and look for me, 
so I said I was going down to read. But I waited for 
just a minute more — I suppose I expected him to ask 
me not to go. He said nothing, but took one big pull 
at his cigar, gave one big big puff of smoke out of his 
mouth and nose, and then threw the cigar overboard 
* Good-night, Mr Walsh,' I said. He looked at me — it 



212 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

was as light as it is now — and said : * Will you give me 
one minute, Miss Cochrane ? ' * Well, only a minute,' I 
said, smiling. I was really afraid about mamma. *I 
want to tell you something,' he said. I wonder if I 
blushed — and whether he could see if I did. I expect 
I did, and that he saw, because he went on very quickly : 
' Something that doesn't matter much to you, but matters 
a bit to me.' 'Go on,' I said. I was quite calm again 
now, because — well, because I saw he was going to say 
something serious — I mean, not of the sort I — ^I had 
thought he might be going to say before." 

"You saw he wasn't making love to you, you 
mean ? " 

"I told you not to interrupt — but I daresay that's 
putting it as nearly right as you can understand." 

I murmured thanks for this rather contemptuous 
forgiveness. 

"Then he told me," Mrs Pryce went on, "just 
simply told me — and said he was going to make some 
excuse for asking the purser to put him at another 
table." 

"But you can't leave it like that!" I expostulated. 
" You're throwing away all your dramatic effect What 
did he say ? His words, his words, Mrs Pryce I " 

" He didn't use any — not in the sense you mean. He 
just told me. He didn't even put me on my honour 
not to tell anybody else. He said he didn't care a hang 
about anybody else on board, but that he wanted to 
spare me any possible shock, and that he'd been con- 
cerned in the bond robbery and would probably be 
arrested at Queenstown, but that he expected to get off 
this time. I think I repeated 'This time!' because I 
remember he said then that he was a thief by profes- 
sion, and couldn't expect good luck every time. That 
was like what he said yesterday, wasn't it?" 

" And what did you say ? It must have been a bad 
quarter of an hour for you. Because you'd liked him a 
good deal, hadn't you ? " 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 213 

" Yes, a lot But" — she turned to me, smiling now — 
" it wasn't bad at all, really." 

She gave a little laugh — a, laugh with pleasant re- 
miniscence in it 

" You were a cool hand for your age," I ventured to 
observe. 

" It was the way he did it," she said. " Somehow I 
felt he was paying me a very high compliment" 

" Oh, I agree ! " I laughed. 

"And one I was glad to have. It must have been 
the way he did it There are some people who abolish 
one*s moral scruples, aren't there ? He was very quiet 
generally, but he had a way of just moving those hands 
of his with a little waving gesture. And when he said 
that of course it wasn't right " 

" Oh, he admitted that ? " 

" Yes, but that little wave of those hands seemed to 
wave right and wrong right out of the way," 

" Overboard ? " 

"Absolutely overboard. Then he looked at me a 
moment and said : ' That's all I had to say. Thanks 
for listening to me. Miss Cochrane. Good-night'" 

" And what did you say ? " 

She rested her chin in her hand, looking sideways 
at me. 

" I said : * Good-night, Mr Walsh. We meet at break- 
fast to-morrow as usual ? * " 

" The deuce you did ! " 

"'At our table?' he asked. And I said * Yes.' He 
gave a little laugh, and so did I, and I held out my hand. 
He shook hands and left me, and I went down and read 
with mamma." 

" Nothing else said ? " 

" He said nothing else. I believe I whispered : * It'll 
be rather fun — because you wt// get off!' But I know 
I didn't say anything more than that" 

There was a pause. I lit another cigarette, snatching 
a mean advantage by stealing a look at my friend in 



114 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



the light of the match. She was not looking at me, bnt 
straight ahead of her : there was a pensive smile on her 
lips. 

" And what happened afterwards ? " I asked. 

" 1 suppose you'll be shocked ? " 

" Being shocked is an emotion hostile to art — I never 
have it." 

" Well, then, I never had such fun. Of course we 
were careful, because of mamma (mamma's idea became 
funny too !), and because we knew what was going to 
happen. But we managed to get no end of talks in 
quiet places — the library's very good in fine weather — 
and he told me all sorts of wonderful things. It was 
like reading the very best detective stories, only ever so 
much better — so much more vivid, you know." 

" More personal interest?" 

" A thousand times I And it was fun, too, at meals, 
and when there was a concert, and so on. I used to 
find him looking at me, with his eyes all full of laughter ; 
and 1 looked back at him, enjoying the secret and the 
way he was making fools of all the rest. We were just 
like two children with some game that the grown-up 
people know nothing about." 

" He had waved your morality overboard with 
vengeance," said I. 

" It was the jolliest time I ever had in my life,' 
Mrs Pryce. " He recited beautifully at the concert- 
' The Ballad of Beau Brocade." " 

"Well done him!" I said approvingly. I began 
rather to like the fellow myself, 

" And at the end he made a little speech, thanking 
the captain, and saying how sorry we should all be when 
the voyage ended. ' And nobody sorrier than myself/ 
he said, with one of his looks at me — such a twinkling 
look — and a tiny wave of those hands," 

" He must have been the most popular man on 
board ? " 

"Well, the men thought him rather standoffish; 






SUM-FINGERED JIM 215 

snubbed some of them, I think. Well, you do meet 
some queer men on a liner, don't you ? And Mr Walsh 
said that out of business hours he claimed to choose his 
acquaintance. But the women all worshipped him — not 
that he ran after them, but his manner was always just 
right to them." 

'' It's really a pity his manner of life was so — ^well, so 
unconventional." 

" Yes, wasn't it ? " she said, welcoming my sympathy. 
'* Because, of course, it meant that our acquaintance had 
to end with the voyage." 

I had, perhaps, been thinking of somewhat broader 
considerations, but I refrained from advancing them. 
In fact, we had somehow got away from ordinary 
standards and restraints ; the memory of Slim-Fingered 
Jim had waved them away. We fell into silence for a 
moment or two, until I asked — 

" And the manner of the end ? Tell me that." 

** I didn't believe in the end. I had got not to believe 
in it at all. I thought we might go on sailing for ever 
over that beautiful sea and having the most splendid 
fun. He could make you feel that everything was just 
splendid fun — that there was nothing else in the world. 
He made me feel that — I suppose he knew he could, or 
he'd never have told me his secret at all. But, of course, 
the end had to come." She sighed and gave a little 
shiver — not that it was cold in the Major's garden. Then 
she turned to me again. '' I've told you a good deal," 
she said, " and you're not a chicken, are you ? " 

I ruefully admitted that I was no chicken. 

"Then I needn't say anything more about myself," 
said she. 

" And what about hyn ? " 

** I think he liked me tremendously ; but he wasn't in 
love." 

"Not at all?" 

" I don't think so. He was just the most perfect of 
good comrades to me — and in that way the finest gentle- 



2i6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

man Tve ever met Because, you know, I can see now 
that I gave him opportunities of being something else. 
Well, I was only nineteen, and " 

" Quite sa The hands, of course ! " 

"It seems possible to be good and bad in — in com- 
partments, doesn't it ? That's rather curious I " 

"If true!" 

" Oh, you know it's true ! " 

" Perhaps I do ; but I never contradict the preacher.** 

She laughed again, but now a trifle fretfully. 

"In his own business I believe he's thoroughly bad." 

" Not even the chivalrous highwayman ? " 

" No. Just bad— bad— bad." 

" Ah, well, business is one thing and charity another, 
as somebody once observed. And now for the end» 
please — because ends do come, even though we don't 
believe in them." 

" Yes, they do ; and this one came," she said. But 
for an instant or two she did not begin to tell me about 
it; and in the silence I heard Charlie Pryce assert 
loudly that he had made a good shot 



III 

" At lunch on Friday," Mrs Pryce resumed, " the steward 
told us that we were expected to reach Queenstown 
about one o'clock in the morning, and we all began dis- 
cussing whether we should sit up. The old travellers 
scoffed at the idea, and mamma, though she wasn't an 
old traveller, said she would never think of being so 
silly. But I and the two other girls at the table — ^they 
were Americans on their first trip over — said that we 
certainly should, and one of them asked Mr Walsh if 
he meant to. * 1 must,' he said, smiling. ' In fact, I 
expect to land there — that is, if I get the telegram 
I expect to get. Of course he glanced at me as he 
spoke, so that I knew what he meant, though the 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 217 

others hadn't the least idea. What would they have 
said?" 

"I suppose they did say they were very sorry he 
wasn't going on to Liverpool ? " 

*^ Yes, and even mamma said how sorry we were to 
part from him. Fancy mamma saying that! It was 
fun 1 Only after lunch she was terribly aggravating ; 
she kept me down in the writing-room all the afternoon, 
writing letters for her to all sorts of stupid people in 
America and at home, saying we'd arrived safely. Of 
course we'd arrived safely I But if mamma so much as 
crosses the Channel without sinking, she writes to all 
her friends as if she'd come back from the North Fole. 
Some people are like that, aren't they ? " 

"Yes; and they're generally considered attentive: 
You may get a great reputation for good manners by 
writing unnecessary letters." 

'' Yes. So I didn't see him again till dinner. Nothing 
much happened then — at least I don't remember much. 
The end had begun, I think, and I wasn't feeling so 
jolly as I had been all the way across. But everybody 
else was in high spirits, and he was the gayest of all of 
us. I expect he saw that I was rather blue, and he 
followed me on deck soon after dinner, and there we 
had our last little talk. He told me that he thought 
everything would be done quite quietly ; he meant to 
tell the purser where to find him in case of inquiry, 
and to be ready to go ashore at once. He was sure 
they'd take him ashore ; but if by chance they didn't, 
he would stay in his cabin, so that, anyhow, this was 
* Good-bye.' So I said * Good-bye' and wished him 
good luck. 'Are you going to sit up?' he said. I 
looked at him for a moment and then said ' No.' He 
smiled in an apologetic sort of way and gave that little 
wave of his hands. * It's foolish of me to care, I suppose, 
but — thank you for that.' I was a little surprised, be- 
cause I really hadn't thought he would mind me seeing ; 
but I was pleased too. He held out both his hands, 



2l8 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



4 



and I took them and pressed them. Then I opened 
my hands and looked at his as they lay there. He 
was smiling at me with his lips and his eyes. 'Slim- 
Fingered Jim ! ' he whispered. ' Don't quite forget him, 
little friend." ' I suppose I shall never see you again?' 
I said. ' Better not," he told me. ' But let's remember 
this voyage. We'll put a little fence round it, won't 
we? and keep all the rest of life out, and just let this 
stand by itself — on its own merits. Shall we, dear little 
friend ? ' " 

Mrs Pryce stayed her narrative for a moment 
my curiosity was merciless. 

" What did you say ? " I asked. 

"I don't know. I think I murmured something like 
' Oh, my dear, my dear ! ' and then I let go of his hands 
and turned away to the sea ; and when I looked round 
again, he was gone." 

" And that was the end ? " 

" No. The end was lying in the berth above mamma, 
who was sound asleep, and — well, snoring rather — lying 
there and feeling the ship slowing down and then stop* 
ping, and hearing the mail-boat come alongside, and 
all the noise and the shouting and the bustle. I knew 
I could hear nothing — there would be nothing to hear 
— but I couldn't help listening. I listened very hard 
all the time, but of course I heard nothing ; and at last 
— after hours and hours, as it seemed — we began to 
move again. That was the real end. I knew it bad 
happened then ; and so it had. He wasn't at breakfast 
Rut luckily nobody on the ship — none of the passengers, 
1 mean — found out about it till we got to Liverpool ; 
and as mamma and I weren't going on to London, It 
didn't matter." 

"And he got off?" 

"Yes, he got off — that time." 

" I'm afraid this great man had one foible," I observed. 
"He was proud of those hands I Well, C; 
like getting bald, so I learnt at school." 



SLIM-FINGERED JIM 219 

"I always remember them as they lay in mine," 
she said. "His hands and his eyes — that's what I 
remember." 

" Ever seen him again ? " 

"Of course not" She sat where she was for a 
moment longer, then rose. " Shall we go in ? " 

" I think we may as well," said I. 

So we went into the billiard-room. They were still 
playing pool. I made for the whisky-and-soda and 
mixed myself a tumbler and drank thereof. When I 
set the tumbler down and turned round to the table 
Charlie Pryce was engaged in making a shot of critical 
importance. Everybody was looking at him. His 
wife was standing at the end of the table and looking 
at him too. She seemed as much interested in the shot 
as any of them. But was she ? For before he played 
she raised her eyes and looked across at me with a 
queer little smile. I couldn't help returning it. I 
knew what she was thinking. The billiard-table is a 
high trial. 

When Charlie had brought off his shot — which he 
did triumphantly — his wife came and kissed him. 
This pleased him very much. He did not recognise 
the Kiss Penitential, which is, however, a well- 
ascertained variety. 

I'm afraid that the magnetic current of immorality 
which seemed to emanate from Mr James Painter 
Walsh passed through the sympathetic medium of 
Mrs Pryce's memory and infected, in some small 
degree, my more hardened intellect; for even now 
I can't help hoping that Slim-Fingered Jim is being 
put to some light form of labour. But it's a difficult 
business ! Even the laundry — a most coveted depart- 
ment, as I am given to understand — ^would spoil them 
hopelessly. 



THE GREY FROCK 



n^HE rights and wrongs of the matter are perhaps a 
^ little obscure, and it is possible to take his side as 
well as hers. Or perhaps there is really no question of 
sides at all — no need to condemn anybody ; only another 
instance of the difficulty people have in understanding 
one another's point of view. But here, with a few lines 
added by way of introduction, are the facts as related 
in her obviously candid and sincere narrative. 

Miss Winifred Petheram's father had an income from 
landed estate of about five thousand a year, and spent, 
say, six or thereabouts ; his manor house was old and 
beautiful, the gardens delightful, the stables handsome 
and handsomely maintained, the housekeeping liberal, 
hospitable, almost lavish. Mr Petheram had three sons 
and four daughters ; but the sons were still young, and 
not the cause of any great expense. Mrs Petheram 
was a quiet body, the two girls in the schoolroom were 
no serious matter; in fact, apart from the horses, 
Mildred and Winifred were, in a pecuniary point of 
view, the most serious burden on the family purse. 
For both were pretty girls, gay and fond of society, 
given to paying frequent visits in town and country, 
and in consequence needing many frocks and a con- 
siderable supply of downright hard cash. But every, 
body was very comfortable ; only it was understood 
that at a period generally referred to as " some day " 
there would be very little for anybody except the 
eldest son. " Some day," meant, of course, when Mr 
Petheram reluctantly died, and thereby brought his 
family into less favourable worldly circumstances. 
From this brief summary of the family's position the 

aao 



THE GREY FROCK 221 

duty of Mildred and Winifred (and, in due course of 
time, of the two girls in the schoolroom also) stands 
forth salient and unmistakable. Mildred performed it 
promptly at the age of nineteen years. He was the 
second son of a baronet, and his elder brother was 
sickly and unmarried ; but, like a wise young man, he 
took no chances, went on the Stock Exchange, and 
became exceedingly well-to-do in an exceedingly brief 
space of time — something, in fact, "came off" in South 
Africa, and when that happens ordinary limits of time 
and probability are suspended. So with Mildred all 
was very well ; and it was odds that one of the boys 
would be provided for by his brother-in-law. Winifred 
had just as good chances — nay, better ; for her sensitive 
face and wondering eyes had an attraction that Mildred's 
self-possessed good looks could not exert. But Wini- 
fred shilly-shallied (it was her father's confidential 
after-dinner word) till she was twenty-one, then refused 
Sir Barton Amesbury(in itself a step of doubtful sanity, 
as was generally observed), and engaged herself to 
Harold Jackson, who made two hundred a year and had 
no prospects except the doubtful one of maintaining his 
income at that level — unless, that is, he turned out a 
genius, when it was even betting whether a mansion or 
the workhouse awaited him ; for that depends on the 
variety of genius. Having taken this amazing course, 
Winifred was resolute and radiantly happy; her rela- 
tives, after the necessary amount of argument, shrugged 
their shoulders — the very inadequate ultima ratio to 
which a softening civilisation seems to have reduced 
relatives in such cases. 

" I can manage two hundred a year for her while I 
live," said Mr Petheram, wiping his brow and then 
dusting his boots; he was just back from his ride. 
" After that " 

" The insurance, my dear?" Mrs Petheram suggested. 
But her husband shook his head ; that little discrepancy 
above noted, between five and six thousand a year, had 



222 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

berore this caused the insurance to be a very badly 
broken reed. 

Harold Jackson — for in him the explanation of 
Winifred's action must be sought — was tall, good- 
looking, ready of speech, and decidedly agreeable. 
There was no aggressiveness about him, and his quiet 
manners repelled any suspicion of bumptiousness. But 
it cannot be denied that to him Winifred's action did 
not seem extraordinary ; he himself accounted for this 
by saying that she, like himself, was an Idealist, the 
boys by saying that he was "stuck-up," Mr Petheram 
by a fretful exclamation that in all worldly matters 
he was as blind as a new-born puppy. Whatever the 
truth of these respective theories, he was as convinced 
that Winifred had chosen for her own happiness as 
that she had given him his. And in this she most 
fully agreed. Of course, then, all the shrugging of 
shoulders in the universe could not affect the radiant 
contentment of the lovers, nor could it avert the swift 
passage of months which soon brought the wedding- 
day in sight, and made preparations for it urgent and 
indispensable. 

Married couples, even though they have only a 
precarious four hundred a year, must live somewhere 
— no idealism is independent of a roof; on the con- 
trary, it centres round the home, so Harold said, and 
the word " home " seemed already sacred to Winifred 
as her glance answered his. It was the happiest day 
of her life when she put on her dainty new costume 
of delicate grey, took her parasol and gloves, matched 
to a shade with her gown, and mounted into the smart 
dog-cart which Jennie, the new chestnut mare, was to 
draw to the station. A letter had come from Harold 
to say that, after long search, he had found a house 
which would suit them, and was only just a trifle more 
expensive than the maximum sum they had decided 
to give for rent. Winifred knew that the delicate grej 
became her well, and that Harold would think ' 



THE GREY FROCK 223 

looking very pretty; and she was going to see her 
home and his. Her face was bright as she kissed her 
father and jumped down from the dog-cart; but he 
sighed when she had left him, and his brow was wrinkled 
as he drove Jennie back. He felt himself growing rather 
old ; '' some day " did not seem quite as remote as it 
used, and pretty Winnie — well, there was no use in 
crying over it now. Wilful girls must have their way ; 
and it was not his fault that confounded agitators had 
played the deuce with the landed interest. The matter 
passed from his thoughts as he began to notice how 
satisfactorily Jennie moved. 

Winifred's lover met her in London, and found her 
eyes still bright from the reveries of her journey. To- 
day was a gala day — they drove off in a hansom to 
a smart restaurant in Piccadilly, joking about their 
extravagance. Everything was perfect to Winifred, 
except (a small exception, surely !) that Harold failed 
to praise, seemed almost not to notice, the grey costume; 
it must have been that he looked at her face only ! 

" It's not a large house, you know," he said at lunch, 
smiling at her over a glass of Graves. 

" Well, I sha'n't be wanting to get away from you," 
she answered, smiling. " Not very far, Harold ! " 

" Are your people still abusing me ? " 

He put the question with a laugh. 

**They never abused you, only me." Then came 
the irrepressible question : " Do you like my new frock ? 
I put it on on purpose — for the house, you know." 

" Our home ! " he murmured, rather sentimentally, it 
must be confessed. The question about the frock he 
did not answer ; he was thinking of the home. Winifred 
was momentarily grateful to a stout lady at the next 
table, who put up her glass, looked at the frock, and 
with a nod of approval called her companion's attention 
to it. This was while Harold paid the bill. 

Then they took another cab, and headed north — 
through Berkeley Square, where Winifred would have 



114 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

liked, but did not expect, to stop, and so up to Oxfbrf 
Street. Here they bore considerably to the east, then 
plunged north again and drove through one or two 
long streets, Harold, who had made the journey before, 
paid no heed to the route, but talked freely of delightful 
hours which they were to enjoy together, of books to 
read and thoughts to think, and of an intimate sym- 
pathy which, near as they were already to one another, 
the home and the home life aionc could enable them 
fully to realise. Winifred listened ; but far down in her 
mind now was another question, hardly easier to stifle 
than that about the frock. " Where are we going to ? " 
would have been its naked form ; but she yielded no 
more to her impulse than to look about her and mark 
and wonder. At last they turned by a sharp twist from 
a long narrow street into a short narrower street, where 
a waggon by the curbstone forced the cab to a walk, 
and shrill boys were playing an unintelligible noisy 
game. 

" What queer places we pass through ! " she cried with 
a laugh, as she laid her hand on his arm and turned her 
face to his. 

" Pass through ! We're at home," he answered, 
returning her laugh. " At home, Winnie ! " He 
pointed at a house on the right-hand side, and, immedi- 
ately after, the cab stopped. Winifred got out, holding 
her skirt back from contact with the wheel. Harold, in 
his eagerness to ring the door bell, had forgotten to 
render her this service. She stood on the pavement for 
a moment looking about her. One of the boys cried : 
" Crikey, there's a swell I " and she liked the boy for it 
Then she turned to the house. 

" It wants a lick of paint," said Harold cheerfully, as 
he rang the bell again. 

" It certainly does," she admitted, looking up at the 
dirty walls. 

An old woman opened the door ; she might be said, 
by way of metaphor, to need the same process as the 



THE GREY FROCK 225 

walls; a very narrow passage was disclosed behind 
her. 

" Welcome ! " said Harold, giving Winifred his hand 
and then presenting her to the old woman. '' This is 
my future wife," he explained. " WeVe come to look 
at the house. But we won't bother you, Mrs Blidgett, 
we'd rather run over it by ourselves. We shall enjoy 
that, sha'n't we, Winnie ? " 

Winnie's answer was a little scream and a hasty 
clutch at her gown ; a pail of dirty water, standing in 
the passage, had threatened ruin ; she recoiled violently 
from this peril against the opposite wall and drew away 
again, silently exhibiting a long trail of dark dust on 
her new grey frock. Harold laughed as he led the way 
into a small square room that opened from the passage. 

** That's the parlour," said the old woman, wiping her 
arms with her apron. "You can find your way up- 
stairs ; nothing's locked." And with this remark she 
withdrew by a steep staircase leading underground. 

" She's the caretaker," Harold explained. 

"She doesn't seem to have taken much care," 
observed Winifred, still indignant about her gown and 
holding it round her as closely as drapery clings to an 
antique statue. 

Miss Petheram's account of the house, its actual 
dimensions, accommodation, and characteristics, has 
always been very vague, and since she refused informa- 
tion as to its number in the street, verification of these 
details has remained impossible. Perhaps it was a 
reasonably capacious, although doubtless not extensive, 
dwelling; perhaps, again, it was a confined and well- 
nigh stifling den. She remembered two things — first, 
its all-pervading dirt ; secondly, the remarkable quality 
which (as she alleged) distinguished its atmosphere. 
She thought there were seven "enclosures," this term 
being arrived at (after discussion) as a compromise 
between " rooms " and " pens " ; and she knew that the 
windows of each of these enclosures were commanded 



226 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

by the windows of several other apparently similar aiwj ' 
very neighbouring enclosures. Beyond this she could 
give no account of her first half-hour in the house ; hei 
exact recollection began when she was left alone in the 
enclosure on the first floor, which Harold asserted to be 
the drawing-room, Harold himself having gone down- 
stairs to seek the old woman and elicit from her some 
information as to what were and what were not tenant's 
fixtures in the said enclosure. "You can look about 
you," he remarked cheerfully, as he left her, " and make 
up your mind where you're going to have your favourite 
seat. Then you shall tell me, and 1 shall have the 
picture of you sitting there in my mind." He pointed 
to a wooden chair, the only one then in the room. 
■■ Experiment with that chair," he added, laughing. " I 
won't be long, darling." 

Mechanically, without considering things which she 
obviously ought to have considered, Winifred sank into 
the designated seat, laid her parasol on a small table, 
and leant her elbows on the same piece of furniture as 
she held her face between her gloved hands. The 
atmosphere again asserted its peculiar quality ; she 
rose for a moment and opened the window ; fresh air 
was gained at the expense of spoilt gloves, and was 
weighted with the drawbacks of a baby's cries and an 
inquisitive woman's stare from over the way. Shutting 
the window again, she returned to her chair — the 
symbol of what was to be her favourite seat in days to 
come, her chosen corner in the house which had been 
the subject of so many talks and so many dreams. 
There were a great many flies in the room ; the noise 
of adjacent humanity in street and houses was mis- 
cellaneous and penetrating ; the air was very close. 
And this house was rather more expensive than their 
calculations had allowed. They had immensely 
enjoyed making those calculations down there in the 
country, under the old yew hedge and in sight of the i 
flower beds beneath the library window. She 



THE GREY FROCK 227 

membered the day they did it. There was a cricket 
match in the meadow. Mildred and her husband 
brought the drag over, and Sir Barton came in his 
tandem. It was almost too hot in the sun, but simply 
delightful in the shade. She and Harold had had great 
fun over mapping out their four hundred a year and 
proving how much might be done with it — at least 
compared with anything they could want when once 
they had the great thing that they wanted. 

The vision vanished ; she was back in the dirty little 
room again ; she caught up her parasol ; a streak across 
the dust marked where it had lain on the table; she 
sprang up and twisted her frock round, craning her neck 
back ; ah, that she had reconnoitred that chair I She 
looked at her gloves ; then with a cry of horror she 
dived for her handkerchief, put it to her lips, and 
scrubbed her cheeks ; the handkerchief came away 
soiled, dingy, almost black. This last outrage overcame 
her ; the parasol dropped on the floor, she rested her 
arms on the table and laid her face on them, and she 
burst into sobs, just as she used to in childhood when 
her brothers crumpled a clean frock or somebody spoke 
to her roughly. And between her sobs she cried, 
almost loudly, very bitterly: "Oh, it's too mean and 
dirty and horrid ! " 

Harold had stolen softly upstairs, meaning to surprise 
the girl he loved, perhaps to let a snatched kiss be her 
first knowledge of his return. He flushed red, and his 
lips set sternly ; he walked across the room to her with 
a heavy tread. She looked up, saw him, and knew that 
her exclamation had been overheard. 

" What in the world is the matter ? " he asked in a 
tone of cold surprise. 

It was very absurd — she couldn't stop crying; and 
from amid her weeping nothing more reasonable, no- 
thing more adequate, nothing less trivial would come 
than confused murmurs of " My frock, Harold ! " " My 
parasol ! " " Oh, my face, my gloves I " He smiled 



128 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



contemptuously. " Don't you see ? " she exclai 
exhibiting the gloves and parasol. 

"See what? Are you crying because the roora 
dirty?" He paused and then added, " I'm sorry you 
think it mean and horrid. Very sorry. Winifred." 

OfTence was deep and bitter in his voice ; he looked 
at her with a sort of disgust ; she stopped sobbing and 
regarded him with a gaze in which fright and expecta- 
tion seemed mingled, as though there were a great 
peril, and just one thing that might narrowly avert it. 
But his eyes were very hard. She dried her tears, and 
then forlornly scrubbed her cheeks again. He watched 
her with hostile curiosity, appearing to think her a 
very strange spectacle. Presently he spoke. " I 
thought you loved me. Oh, 1 daresay you thought 
so too till 1 came into competition with your new 
frock. I beg pardon — I must add your gloves and 
your parasol. As for the house, it's no doubt mean 
and horrid ; we were going to be poor, you see," He 
laughed scornfully, as he added, "You might even 
have had to do a little dusting yourself now and then 1 
Horrible 1" 

" I just sat tliere and looked at him." That was 
Winifred's own account of her behaviour. It is not 
very explicit and leaves room for much conjecture as 
to what her look said or tried to say. But whatever 
the message was he did not read it. He was engrossed 
in his own indignation, readier to hurt than to under- 
stand, full of his own wrong, of the mistake he had 
made, of her extraordinary want of love, of courage, of 
the high soul. Very likely all this was a natural enough 
state of mind for him to be in. Justice admits his 
provocation ; the triviality of her spoken excuses gave 
his anger only too fine an opportunity. He easily 
persuaded himself that here was a revelation of the real 
woman, a flash of light that showed her true nature, 
showing, too, the folly of his delusion about her. 
Against all this her look and what it asked for had 



THE GREY FROCK 229 

very little chance, and she could find no words that did 
not aggravate her offence. 

" This is really rather a ludicrous scene," he went on. 
"Is there any use in prolonging it?" He waited for 
her to speak, but she was still tongue-tied. " The care- 
taker needn't be distressed by seeing the awful effects 
of her omission to dust the room ; but, if you're com- 
posed enough, we might as well go." He looked 
round the room. " You'll be glad to be out of this," 
he ended. 

" I know what you must think of me," she burst out, 
"but — but you don't understand — you don't see " 

"No doubt I'm stupid, but I confess I don't. At 
least there's only one thing I see." He bowed and 
waved his hand towards the door. "Shall we go?" 
he asked. 

She led the way downstairs, her skirt again held close 
and raised clear of her ankles ; her care for it was not 
lost on Harold as he followed her, for she heard him 
laugh again with an obtrusive bitterness that made his 
mirth a taunt. The old caretaker waited for them in 
the passage. 

" When'll you be coming, sir ? " she asked. 

" I don't know. It's not certain we shall come," said 
he. " The lady is not much taken with the house." 

" Ah, well ! " sighed the old woman resignedly. 

For an account of their drive back to the station 
materials are, again, sadly wanting. "He hardly said 
a word, and I did nothing but try to get my face clean 
and my gloves presentable," was Winifred's history of 
their journey. But she remembered — or chose to relate 
— a little more of what passed while they waited for 
the train on the platform at Euston. He left her for a 
few minutes on pretext of smoking a cigarette, and she 
saw him walking up and down, apparently in thought. 
Then he came back and sat down beside her. His 
manner was grave now; to judge by his recorded 
words, perhaps it was even a little pompous ; but when 



230 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

may young men be pompous, if not at such crises as 
these ? 

" It's no use pretending that nothing has happened, 
Winifred," he said. "That would be the hollowest 
pretence, not worthy, I think, of either of us. Perhaps 
we had better take time to consider our course and«-er 
— our relations to one another." 

"You don't want to marry me now?" she asked 
simply. 

" I want to do what is best for our happiness/' he 
replied. " We cannot forget what has happened to-day." 

" I know you would never forget it," she said. 

He did not contradict her; he looked first at his 
watch, then along the platform for the approach of her 
train. To admit that he might forget it was impossible 
to him ; in such a case forgetfulness would be a nega- 
tion of his principles and a slur on his perception* It 
would also be such a triumph over his vanity and his 
pride as it did not lie in him to achieve, such a forgive- 
ness as his faults and virtues combined to put beyond 
the power of his nature. She looked at him ; and " I 
smiled," she said, not seeming herself to know why she 
had smiled, but conscious that, in the midst of her woe, 
some subtly amusing thought about him had come into 
her mind. She had never been amused at him before ; 
so she, too, was getting some glimmer of a revelation 
out of the day's experience — not the awful blaze of 
light that had flashed on Harold's eyes, but a dim ray, 
just enough to give cause to that puzzled smile for 
which she could not explicitly account. 

So they parted, and for persons who have followed 
the affair at all closely it is hardly necessaiy to add 
that they never came together again. This issue was 
obvious, and Winifred seems to have made up her mind 
to it that very same evening, for she called her mother 
into her room (as the good lady passed on the way to 
bed) and looked up from the task of brushing the grey 
frock which she had spread out on the sofa. 



THE GREY FROCK 231 

'*I don't think I shall marry Mr Jackson now, 
mother," she said. 

Mrs Petheram looked at her daughter and at her 
daughter's gown. 

" You'd better tell me more about it to-morrow. You 
look tired to-night, dear," she replied. 

But Winifred never told her any more — in the first 
place, because the family was too delighted with the 
fact to care one straw about how it had come to pass, 
and, in the second place, on the more important ground 
that the thing was really too small, too trivial, and too 
absurd to bear telling — at least to the family. To me, 
for some reason or other, Winifred did tell it, or some 
of it — enough, anyhow, to enable me, with the help 
of a few touches of imagination, to conjecture how it 
occurred. 

" Don't you think it was very absurd ? " she asked at 
the end of her story. We were sitting by the yew 
hedge, near the library windows, looking across the 
flower beds to the meadow ; it was a beautiful day, and 
the old place was charming. " Because," she added, " I 
did love him, you know ; and it seems a small thing to 
separate about, doesn't it ? " 

" If he had behaved differently " I began. 

"I don't see how he could be expected to," she 
murmured. 

" You expected him to," I said firmly. She turned to 
me with an appearance of interest, as though I might 
be able to interpret to her something that had b^n 
causing her puzzle. " Or you wouldn't have looked at 
him as you say you did — or smiled at him, as you 
admit you did. But you were wrong to expect him to, 
because he's not that kind of man." 

« What kind of man ? " 

" The kind of man to catch you in his arms, smother 
you in kisses (allow me the old phrase), tell you that he 
understood all you felt, knew all you were giving up, 
realised the great thing you were doing for him." 



aja 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Winifred was listening. I went on wilh my imaginarj* 
scene of romantic fervour. 

" That when he contrasted that mean little place with 
the beauties you were accustomed to, with the beauties 
which were right and proper for you, when he saw your 
daintiness soiled by that dust, that gown whose hem he 
would willingly " 

" He needn't say quite as much as that," interrupted 
Winifred, smiling a little. 

" Well, or words to that effect," said I, " That when 
he did all this and saw all this, you know, he loved you 
more, and knew that you loved him more than he had 
dared to dream, with a deeper love, a love that gave up 
for him all that you loved next best and second only to 
him ; that after seeing your tears he would never doubt 
again that you would face all trials and ail troubles with 
him at your side — Don't you think, if he'd said some- 
thing of that kind, accompanying his words with the 
appropriate actions " I paused. 

"Well?" asked Winifred. 

■■ Don't you think you might have been living in that 
horrid little house now. instead of being about to con- 
tract an alliance with Sir Barton Amesbury?" 

" How do you know I shall do that ? " she cried. 

" It needs." I observed modestly, ■' little skill to dis- 
cern the approach of the inevitable." I looked at her 
thoughtful face and at her eyes ; they had their old look 
of wondering in them. "Don't you think that if he'd 
treated the situation in that way ? " I asked. 

" Perhaps," she said softly. "But he wouldn't think 
of all that. He was such an Idealist." 

I really do not know why she applied that term to 
him at that moment, except that he used to apply it to 
himself at many moments. But since it seemed to her 
to explain his conduct, there is no need to quarrel with 
the epithet, 

"And I hope," said I, "that the grey frock w asnt 
irretrievably ruined ? " 



THE GREY FROCK 



^33 



" I've never worn It again/' she murmured. 

So I suppose it was ruined — unless she has some 
other reason. But she would be right to treat it 
differently from other frocks ; it must mean a good 
deal to her, although it failed to mean anything except 
its own pretty self to Mr Jackson. 



FOREORDAINED 

" T DON'T say," observed the Colonel, "that limited 
^ liability companies haven't great advantages. In 
fact, I'm a director myself — it's a big grocery — and 
draw three hundred a year — a very welcome addition 
to my half-pay — and, for all I know, I may supply 
some of you fellows with your morning bacon. If I do, 
it just exemplifies the point I was about to make; 
which is this — When it comes to limited companies, 

Srou never know who anybody is. I could tell you a 
ittle story to illustrate that ; .it's rather a sad one, 
though." 

The club smoking-room was cheerfully lighted, the 
fire burned brightly, we each had a cigar and a drink. 
We intimated to the Colonel that we felt in a position 
to endure a touch of tragedy. 

" It's some years ago now," he said, " but it affected 
me considerably at the time. Do any of you go to 
Stretchley's for your clothes?" 

Three of us shook our heads wistfully. The fourth — 
a young man, and a new member, whom none of us 
knew, but who had a legal look about him and wore 
admirable trousers of a delicate grey — answered the 
Colonel's question in the affirmative. 

" If I may say so, you and Stretchley do one another 
credit, sir," said the Colonel, with an approving glance 
at the new member's trousers. " And I needn't tell you 
that Stretchley's have few equals — ^and no superiors. 
When you say Stretchley's, you say everything. I 
have never gone to them myself: partly because I 
couldn't afford it, more perhaps from motives of delicacy 
— from consideration for poor George Langhom's feel- 

«34 



FOREORDAINED 235 

ings. He has always preferred not to act professionally 
for his personal friends, even though he lost money in 
consequence." 

" How does Greorge Langhorn come in ? " I ventured 
to ask. 

" He is Stretchley's, to all intents and purposes. It's 
a small family company. The business was founded by 
George's maternal grandfather, and carried to greatness 
by his mother's brother, Fred Stretchley, whom I used 
to see at Brighton years ago. Fred made it into a 
company, but of course kept the bulk of the shares to 
himself, besides the entire control ; and when he died 
he left all he had to George, on condition — mark you, 
on condition — ^that George remained in the business, 
and in active control of it He did that because he 
knew that George hated it, and, at the same time, had 
a wonderful turn for it." 

" Rather odd, that ! " the new member observed. 

" I don't think so, sir," said the Colonel. '' He had 
a knack for it, because it was in his blood ; and he hated 
it, because he'd had it crammed down his throat all his 
life. He'd been right through the mill from a boy ; the 
only holiday he'd ever had from it was a year at Bonn 
— and that was to learn German, with a view to busi- 
ness. It was at Bonn that I became acquainted with 
him, and a very nice fellow he was — quite a gentleman, 
and extremely well-informed. We became great friends. 
His only fault was his exaggerated dislike of his own 
occupation. On that subject he was morbid — and, I'm 
afraid I must add, a trifle snobbish. All the same, he 
was unmistakably proud of Stretchley's. He was quite 
alive to the fact that, if he had to be a tailor, it was a 
fine thing to be Stretchley's, and in moments of confi- 
dence he would thank Heaven that he hadn't been bom 
in the ready-made line — * reach-me-downs,' he called it 
' It might have been worse,' he would say manfully. 
At those times I felt a great respect for him." 

" They do know how to make a pair of breeches," 



2^6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

murmured the new member, regarding his own legs 
with pensive satisfaction. 

"Nobody better, nobody better," the Colonel agreed, 
with a solemn cordiality — and we all looked at the new 
member's legs for some moments. "Well, as I was 
saying," the Colonel then resumed, " George Langhom 
and I became real friends; but 1 was abroad on service 
for two or three years after he came back from Bonn 
and got into harness in SaviJe Row, and so 1 lost 
sight of him for a bit. But after I'd been home a few 
montlis, I was passing through town on my way to the 
Riviera, on six weeks' leave, and I dropped in at his 
place and saw him. I found him in a sad way — very 
depressed and down in the mouth, railing against the 
business, utterly sick of it. He told me he couldn't 
endure the sight of a frock-coat, and spent all his time 
at home in pyjamas and a dressing-gown — just because 
those were portions of apparel not supplied by Stretcb- 
ley's. Morbid, of course, but sad, very sad I It looked 
to me as if he was on the verge of a breakdown, and I 
took a strong line with hijn. I told him that he 
owed it to himself to take a complete holiday — to get 
right away from the shop for a bit, to forget all about 
it, to put plenty of money in his pocket, and give him- 
self a real holiday — he told me he hadn't taken more 
than a week here and there for two years. I said : 'I'm 
just off to Monte Carlo, You come with me. Sink the 
shop — dismiss it from your mind — and come along.' 
Well, he saw how wise I was, made his arrangements, 
and joined me at Charing Cross three days later. OflT 
we went, and a very good time we had of it. George 
was a handsome young fellow of four or five and twenty, 
with lots to say for himself, and a very taking way v/ith 
women. Nobody knew who he was, but I and my 
friends gave him a good start, and he could take care of 
the rest for himself In point of fact I received a great 
many compliments on the good taste I showed in choos- 
ing my travelling companion. Ah, yes, we had i 



FOREORDAINED 237 

good fun ! " The Colonel leant back in his chair for a 
moment, with a smile of pleasant — possibly of roguish 
—reminiscence. 

" No signs of the tragedy yet, Colonel," said I. 

" Wait a bit ; Tm just coming to it. When we'd. been 
there about a fortnight, a young lady appeared on the 
scene. She was one of the prettiest creatures I ever 
saw — and IVe seen some in my day — and as merry as 
she was pretty. Besides that, she was evidently un- 
commonly well off; she travelled with a companion, a 
maid, and a toy- poodle, and threw away her money at 
the tables as if she were made of it. I needn't tell you 
that such a girl didn't want for attentions at Monte 
Carlo, of all places in the world. The fortune-hunters 
were hot on her track, besides all the young fellows who 
were genuinely smitten with her. If I'd been ten years 
younger, Td have had a shot myself But it wouldn't 
have been any use. From the very first George was the 
favourite, just as from the first George had been drawn 
to her. There seemed really to be what they call an 
affinity between them. I never saw an affair go so 
quickly or so prosperously. Yes, there seemed to be 
an affinity. George was carried right off his feet, and I 
was intensely pleased to see it. He wasn't thinking of 
Stretchley's now, and he was putting on weight every 
day ! My treatment was being a brilliant success, and 
I didn't mind admitting that more than half the credit 
was due to pretty Miss Minnie Welford — that was her 
name. 

" I was only waiting to hear the happy news when 
one morning George came down looking decidedly pale 
and with a face as long as your arm. I made sure he'd 
received a telegram calling him back to Savile Row. 
But it wasn't that. This was it. In conversation, in 
the garden of the Casino the evening before, somebody 
had begun talking about misalliances and that sort of 
thing. One took one side, and one another — the 
people who had nothing in particular to boast about in 



238 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

the family way being the loudest in declaring they'd 
never make a low marriage, as they generally are. 
Minnie, who was sitting next George, took the high 
romantic line. She said that if she loved a man (George 
told me she blushed adorably as she said this — ^you can 
believe that or not, as you like) neither family nor 
fortune would weigh for a minute with her. That 
made Greorge happy, as you can imagine. Then some 
fellow said : ' You'd marry the chimney-sweep, would 
you, Miss Welford ? * * Yes, if I loved him,' says she. 
' Absolutely nobody barred ? ' the man asked, laughing. 
She blushed again (or so Geoi^e said) and laughed a 
little and said : * Well, just one — ^just one class of man ; 
but I won't tell you which it is.' And no more she 
would, though they all tried to guess, and chaffed her, 
and worried her to tell. When the talk had drifted off 
to something else, George seized his opportunity — he 
told me he had a horrid sort of presentiment — and 
whispered in her ear : * Tell me ! ' She looked at him 
with eyes full of fun and said : * Well, Til tell you ; but 
it's a secret. Swear to ke^p it!* George swore to 
keep it, and then she leant over to him, put her lips 

close to his ear, and whispered Well, of course, 

you've guessed what she whispered?" 

" Tailors ! " said the new member in a reflective tone. 

" Yes, * tailors,' " said the Colonel mournfully. " She 
just whispered * Tailors!* and ran off with a merry 
glance (so George said) — a merry glance. And he 
hadn't had a wink of sleep all night, and came to tell 
me the first thing in the morning. I never saw a man 
so broken up." 

" Had she found out about him ? " I asked. 

"No, no, sir; not a hint — not an idea. You'll see 
later on that she couldn't have had the least idea« 
But there it was — ^tailors ! And what the dickens was 
poor George Langhom to do? He took one view, 
I urged the other. His was the high-flying line. He 
must tell her the whole truth before he breathed as 



FOREORDAINED 239 

much as a word of love to her ! Fatal, of course, but 
he said it was the only line an honourable man could 
take. I denied that I said : ' Tell her you love her 
first Get her consent — because you will get it Let 
the matter rest for a week or two— let her love grow, 
let the thing become fully settled and accepted, so that 
to break it off would cause talk and so on. Then, when 
it's all settled, just casually observe, in a laughing kind 
of way, that you're sorry she has a prejudice against a 
certain estimable occupation, because you happen to be 
indirectly connected with it' Machiavellian, you'll say, 
no doubt; but effective, very effective! 'Indirectly 
connected' I consider was justifiable. Yes, I do. I 
am, as I said a little while ago, a director of a grocery 
business, but I don't consider myself directly — not 
directly— connected with lard and sugar. No, I didn't 
go beyond the limits of honour, though possibly I 
skirted them. In helping one's friends, one does. 
However, George wouldn't have it, and at last I had 
to be content with a compromise. He wasn't to speak 
of the business before he spoke of love, nor to speak of 
love before he spoke of the business. He was to speak 
of them both at once. That was what we decided." 

" Rather difficult," commented the new member, with 
that reflective smile which I began to recognise as 
habitual. 

''Pray, sir, would you expect such a thing to be 
easy?" demanded the Colonel, with an approach to 
warmth. "We did the best we could, sir, under ex- 
ceptionally awkward and delicate circumstances." The 
Colonel leant back again and took a sip of barley-water. 
That is his tipple. 

We all waited in silence for the Colonel to resume 
his narrative. I remember that, owing perhaps to the 
associations of the subject, my regard was fixed on the 
new member's grey trousers, to which he himself con- 
tinued to pay a thoughtful attention. The Colonel 
took up the tale again in impressive tones. 



240 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



'^ 



"It has been my lot," he said, "to witness ntBDjr 
instances of the perverse working of what we call &l£ 
or destiny, and of the cruel freaks which it plays with 
us poor human creatures. I may mention, just in 
passing, the case of my old friend Major Vincent, who, 
himself a vegetarian, married a woman whom he sub- 
sequently discovered to be constitutionally unable so 
much as to sit in the same room with a cabbage. But 
neither that case nor any other within my experience 
equals the story which I am now telling you. You will 
agree with me when you hear the dinoAemeHt, which is 
of a nature impossible for any of you to anticipate." 
" I think I know it," observed the new member. 
" It's impossible that you should, sir," said the Colonel 
firmly, though courteously : " and when you have heaid 
me out, you yourself will be the first to admit as much. 
Where was I ? Ab, I remember. Well, George Lang- 
horn left me in the condition which I have attempted to 
describe, and with the understanding which I have 
mentioned. How, precisely, he carried out that under- 
standing, I am, of course, unable to say, as his inter- 
view with Miss Welford was naturally a private one, 
and he never volunteered any detailed account of it, 
while it would have been absolute cruelty to press him 
on the subject; for if his state of mind was lamentable 
when he left me, it was as nothing to the dismay and 
horror which held possession of him on his return some 
two hours later. He rushed into my room really like a 
man distraught — I am in the habit of measuring my 
words, and I don't use that one unadvisedly — plumped 
himself down on my sofa, and ejaculated : ' Merciful 
heavens, she owns half the Sky-high ! ' " 

At this climax — for such his manner obviously in- 
dicated it to be — the Colonel looked round on us in 
sombre triumph. We were all gravely attentive (except 
the new member, who still smiledl and the Colonel 
continued, well satisfied with the effect which he bad 
produced. 



FOREORDAINED 241 

" There's fate for you, if you like ! " he exclaimed, 
with uplifted forefinger. " There's the impossibility of 
evading destiny or escaping from a foreordained environ- 
ment ! Out of all the girls in the world, George had 
fixed his affections on that particular one ; he had gone 
straight to her, as it were ; and, for my part, I can't 
doubt that the very thing he hated, and she hated too, 
had, all the same, served in some mysterious way to 
bring them together. And there was the situation! 
Not only was George, as a man, forbidden the escape 
which he had prayed for, but Stretchley's was brought 
into contact with the * Sky-high Tailoring Company ' ! 
No doubt you are all familiar with its advertisements 
— chubby boys in sailor suits, square-legged little girls 
in velveteen, dress-suits at thirty-seven and sixpence! 
I need not enlarge on the subject ; it's distasteful. 
It is enough to say that any connection between 
Stretchley's and the Sky-high was to George's mind 
almost unthinkable. Observe, then, the curious and 
distressing psychological situation. As a man, he 
hated Stretchley's ; as Stretchley's, he loathed and de- 
spised the Sky-high. His love — his most unfortunate 
love — was in conflict at once with his personal feelings 
and with his professional pride. And what of her? 
When he grew calmer, George entered on that subject 
with some fulness. She had suffered, exactly as he 
had, from the obsession of the family business, in the 
shadow of which she had been bred, to a half-share 
in which she had succeeded on her father's death. In 
early days, before fortune came, she had even been 
dressed from the stock I Like George, she had looked 
to marriage for a complete change of life and associa- 
tions. It was not to be. And, more than that, she 
was acutely conscious of what George must feel. Her 
training and the family atmosphere had not failed to 
teach her that. She knew only too well how Stretchley's 
would feel towards the Sky-high. And George was 
Stretchley's, and she was the Sky-high ! One some- 



242 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

times reads of ffUsaUiances in the papers or meets 
them among one's acquaintance. Never have I met 
one like this. The very fact of the occupation being 
in essence the same intensified the discrepancy and the 
contrast Which, gentlemen, would surprise and, I 
may say, shock you more — that a duke should marry 
oil or soap, or that a really first-class purveyor should 
take his bride from a fried fish shop? No man of 
perception can hesitate. It is within the bounds of 
the same occupation that the greatest contrasts, the 
greatest distance, the greatest gulfs of feeling are to 
be found. I value an otherwise painful experience 
because it exhibited that philosophic truth in so vivid 
and striking a manner. You would sooner ask the 
Commander-in-Chief to lend a hand with a wheelbarrow 
than propose to him to take command of a corporal's 
guard. Your chef would no doubt put on the coals to 
oblige a lady, but not to oblige a thousand ladies would 
he wash the dishes ! " 

" I daresay that's all true," I made bold to observe, 
" but, nevertheless, your pair of lovers seem to me rather 
ridiculous." 

" Exactly, sir," said the Colonel — and I was relieved 
that he took my interruption so well. "They would 
seem to you ridiculous. Probably the chef seems 
ridiculous too? A man of another profession can't 
have the feeling in its full intensity. It seems 
ridiculous ! But think — doesn't that very fact increase 
the tragedy ? To suffer from a feeling deep and pain- 
ful, and to be aware that it is in the eyes of the world 
at large ridiculous — can you imagine anything more 
distressing ? " 

" Your story illustrates more than one great truth, I 
perceive. Colonel." 

" If it did not, sir, I should never have troubled you 
with it," he answered with lofty courtesy. 

" And what happened ? Did love triumph over 
all?" 



FOREORDAINED 243 

" I hesitate to describe the issue in those terms/' said 
he, with a slight frown. "They are conventional — 
designedly, no doubt — and I don't think that they fit 
this particular case. George and Miss Welford were, 
beyond question, deeply attached to one another, and 
they got married in due course — nor am I aware that 
the marriage has turned out otherwise than well in the 
ordinary sense. Mrs Langhorn is a very charming 
woman. But was it a triumph of love ? I look deeper, 
gentlemen. In my view love was but an instrument in 
the hands of Fate. The triumph was the triumph of 
Fate, and I am persuaded that, when they went to the 
altar, resignation to destiny was the most prominent 
feeling in the minds of both of them. That is why 
I said at the beginning that the story was rather 
a sad one. The very night before the wedding I 
found George poring over the Sky-high's illustrated 
catalogue ! What does that fact carry to your 
minds ? " 

" It looks bad," I admitted, with a sigh. 

" It speaks volumes," said the Colonel briefly, and he 
finished his barley-water. 

The new member flung the end of his cigar into the 
grate and rose to his feet. His face still wore the 
reflective smile which had decorated it throughout 
the Colonel's story. 

" And what," I asked the Colonel, " are the present 
relations between Stretchley's and the Sky-high ? " 

"It would be curious to know," he answered; "but 
as to that I have no information. I've never ventured 
to interrogate George Langhorn on the point." 

"I think I can answer the question," said the new 
member, flicking an ash off" his trousers. " The two 
companies were privately amalgamated last week. I 
drew the articles of association myself. Mr Langhorn 
is to be chairman of the joint concern." 

The Colonel might plausibly have resented a silence 
so long maintained as to border on deceit. He showed 



244 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



no anger. He nodded his head gravely, as though 
say : " Here is the Epilogue ! Here is tiie Catastrop 
complete ! " 

" Stretchley's and the Sky-high 1" he murmon 
" Poor George Langhorn ! Poor George ! " 

I went home to dinner really quite depressed. 



PRUDENCE AND THE BISHOP 

IV/r ISS PRUDENCE was astonishingly pretty ; it was 
^^^ far from tedious to lie on the bank of the stream 
and watch her, while her second brother — a lanky youth 
of fifteen — fished for non-existent trout with an entirely 
unplausible fly. 

** So Clara Jenkins said that about me ? " 

I nodded. " Just let it fall, you know. Miss Prudence, 
in the give-and-take of conversation." 

"If you weren't a stranger in our neighbourhood, 
you wouldn't pay any attention to what a girl like that 
says." 

" Oh, but it was about you," I protested. 

Prudence looked at me as if she were thinking that I 
might have been amusing when I was young. 

" What was the word Clara used ? " she asked. 

" There were two words. * Calculating ' was one." 

" Oh, was it ? " 

" Yes. The other was * heartless.' " 

" I like that ! It's only what mamma tells me." 

" Your mother tells you ? " My tone indicated great 
surprise : her mother is the vicar's wife, and the alleged 
counsel seemed unpastoral. 

" Yes — and it's quite right too," Prudence maintained. 
"You know how poor we are. And there are eight 
of us ! " 

" Five and three ? " 

" Yes : Johnny at Oxford, Dick at school, and Clar- 
ence to go soon I And the girls — ^you know what girls 
cost, anyhow ! " 

" They vary, I suppose ? " 

"Just you talk to mamma about that ! " 

245 



246 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

That didn't seem ui^ent "Another time," I mur- 
mured, " I shall be pleased to exchange impressions." 

I don't think Prudence heard. She was looking very 
thoughtful, a minute wrinkle ornamenting her brow. 

" The boys must have their education ; the girb must 
have justice done to them." 

" To be sure ! And so— ? " 

" And why shouldn't one fall in love with a man who 
—who " 

" Would be delighted to do all that ?" 

" Of course he'd be delighted. I mean a man who — 
who could do it" 

"Rich?" 

" Papa says differences in worldly position are rightly 
ordained." 

" No doubt he's correct. Your man would have to be 
quite rich, wouldn't he ? Seven besides you I " 

" Oh, we aren't accustomed to much," said Prudence, 
with a smile at me which somehow made me wish for a 
cheque-book and an immense amount of tact ; a balance 
at the bank we will presuppose. 

" And may I ask," I resumed, " why you are selected 
out of all the family for this — er — sacrifice ? " 

She blushed, but she was wary. " I'm the eldest girl, 
you see," she said. 

" Just so," I agreed. " I was very stupid not to think 
of that." 

" The others are so young." 

"Of course. It would be waiting till it was too 
late ? " 

« Yes, Mr Wynne." 

I interpolate here a plain statement of fact. The 
other girls resemble their mother, and the vicar's type, 
reproduced in Miss Prudence, is immeasurably the 
more refined — not to say picturesque. 

" Oh, if you won't be serious ! " sighed Prudence — 
though, as has been seen, I had said nothing. 

" It certainly is not a laughing matter," I admitted. 



PRUDENCE AND THE BISHOP 247 

" How difficult the world is ! Was Sir John at the 
Jenkins's ? " 

" Sir John ? " 

" Sir John Ffolliot— of Ascombe, you know." 

" Tall red-faced young man ? " 

" Yes, very — I mean, rather. Rather tall, anyhow." 

" Oh yes, he was there." 

" When Clara talked about me ? " 

'* So far as I recollect, he was not in earshot at that 
moment, Miss Prudence. But then I wasn't in earshot 
while she talked to him. So possibly " 

" Now she really is a cat, isn't she ? " 

" I haven't the smallest doubt of it. But you must 
make allowances." 

" I do. Still I can't see why plain people are to say 
just what they like I " 

" Nobody minds them," I observed consolingly. 

The conversation flagged for a moment or two. That 
didn't matter ; one can always look at the view. 

"Is my hat crooked?" asked Miss Prudence with 
affected anxiety. 

" I should say you'd get him, if you really want him," 
I remarked. 

My thoughts were switched off in another direction 
by Miss Prudence's next utterance. I don't complain 
of that ; it was probably rightly ordained, as the vicar 
would have said ; there's something in a meadow and a 
river that resists middle age — and I don't know that a 
blue frock, with eyes to match, and hair that 

" Do you happen to know how much a bishop gets ? " 
asked Prudence. 

" Not precisely, Miss Prudence. It varies, I believe 
— like what girls cost All I know is that it's never 
enough for the needs of his diocese." 

" Oh, isn't it ? " She looked rather troubled over this 
information. 

"So the papers say — and the bishops too some- 
times." 



248 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

"Stillyou wouldn't call them exactlypoor, would you?" 

*' / call them poor ! Good Lord ! " was my observation. 

" You know our bishop's Palace ? " 

" A charming residence, Miss Prudence — even stately.** 

" And Sir John says he drives awfully good horses." 

" Let us rely on Sir John where we can." 

" And Mr Davenport says he gives away a lot" 

" Mr Davenport ? *' 

" So he can't be poor, can he ? " 

"Mr Davenport?" 

"Oh, I b^ pardon I But you've met him. How 
forgetful you are! Papa's curate!" 

" Dear me, dear me ! Of course ! You mean Frank ?" 

" Papa calls him Frank." 

" You all call him Frank.'* 

" I suppose we do — yes.** 

" So I forgot his surname just for the minute. Does 
he call you Prudence ? " 

" What has that got to do with it ? " 

"Roughly speaking, it ranges from three to seven 
thousand a year. More for archbishops, according to 
scale, of course." 

" Well, that sounds plenty," said Prudence. 

(I have ascertained from Crockford's Directaty that 
the value of the vicar's living is three hundred and 
twenty five pounds per annum.) 

" Don't be calculating, Miss Prudence 1 " 

"And heartless?" The little wrinkle was on her 
brow again. 

" That remark of Miss Jenkins* seems to rankle ! " 

" I wasn't thinking — altogether — of Clara." 

It seemed hard if somebody else had been calling her 
heartless too— or even thinking it. And all for listening 
to her mother! I tried to administer consolation. 

" The thing is," I observed, " a judicious balancing of 
considerations. Here, on the one hand, is justice to be 
done to the girls — in the way of accomplishments and 
appearance, f may presume ? — and education to be given 



PRUDENCE AND THE BISHOP 249 

to the boys — it would be no bad thing if someone taught 
Dick how to make a fly, for example ; on the other hand 
lie what I may broadly term your inclinations and " 

I awoke to the fact that Miss Prudence had not been 
listening to the latter portion of my remark. She was 
rubbing the knuckles of one hand into the palm of the 
other, and frowning now quite heavily. Then she 
twisted one Httle hand round the other; and almost 
inaudibly she said : '* How can one balance considera- 
tions " — (She infused a pleasant scorn into her intonation 
of these respectable words) — ^**How can one balance 
considerations when ? " 

Primd facie that "when " admitted of various 

interpretations. But I chose one without hesitation. 

" Then why this talk about how much a bishop gets, 
you calculating heartless girl ? '' 

She darted at me a look of fearful merriment. 

"And they make them quite young sometimes in 
these days," I added. And I rounded off my period 
by remarking that Sir John Ffolliot seemed a stupid 
sort of dog. 

"Yes, isn't he?" 

" Might do for Clara Jenkins ?" 

" If 1 thought that " Miss Prudence began hotly. 

" But the idea is preposterous," I added hastily. " One 
of your sisters now ? " 

"That's really not a bad idea," she conceded 
graciously. 

In fact, she had suddenly grown altogether very 
gracious — and I do not refer merely to die marked 
civility of her manner towards myself. The frown had 
vanished, the wrinkle was not : the hands were clasped 
in a comfortable repose. She looked across to me with 
a ridiculously contented smile. 

" It's such a good thing to have a talk with a really 
sensible man," she said. 

I took off my hat — but I also rose to my feet To 
present me as a future bishop was asking too much of 



»5o TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

the whirligig of time. Not a kaleidoscope could do 
Besides, I wasn't serious about it ; it was just at 
meadow, the river — and the rest In order to prove 
this to myself beyond dispute, I said that I had to go to 
the post office and despatch an important letter, 

" To the post office ? " said Prudence, displaying soow 
confusion at the mention of that institution. " Oh, then, 
would you mind — it would be so kind — would you really 
mind ?" 

"Calling in at the parlour window and telling Mr 
Davenport that you're going to have some tennis after 
tea? With pleasure, of course." 

"I didn't know you knew he lodged there!" sbe 
cried. 

"Pending promotion to the Palace, yes." 

I made that last remark after 1 had turned my back, 
and I didn't look round to see whether Miss Prudence 
had heard it ; it was, in fact, in the nature of an " aside ' 
— a thing which may be heard or not at pleasure. 

" Won't you come too ? " she called. 

"Certainly not. I propose to meditate." On these 
words I did turn round, and waved her farewell. I 
think she was indulging in a most proper forgetfulness 
of her brothers and sisters — and, incidentally, of tnyseIC 
So I proceeded to the post office, although of course I 
had no letter at all to send. 

I found Mr Davenport in flannels, sitting with his 
feet on the mantelpiece, smoking a pipe and reading. 
He was an engaging six-feet of vigour, and I delivered 
my message with as little rancour as could be expected 
under the circumstances. 

" I think I'll go," he said, briskly knocking out his 
pipe. 

It was some satisfaction to me to remind him that it 
was only half-past three, and that tennis didn't begin 
till after tea. He put his pipe back between his teeth 
with a disappointed jerk. 

"What arc you reading?" I inquired affably. 



PRUDENCE AND THE BISHOP 251 

must be pictured as standing outside the post office 
parlour window while conducting this colloquy. 

He looked a trifle ashamed. " The fact is, I some- 
times try to keep up my Latin a bit," he explained, 
conscious of the eccentricity of this proceeding. " It's 
Juvenal." 

" Not so very clerical," I ventured to observe. 

" A great moralist," he maintained — ^yet with an eye 
distantly twinkling with the light of unr^enerate 
days. 

" I suppose so. That bit about prudence now ? " 

"About who?" cried he, springing to his feet and 
dropping his poet on the floor. 

" Evidently you recollect I Nullum numen abest si sit 
Prudentia " 

" Curiously enough, IVe just been having a shot at a 
rendering of that couplet," said Mr Davenport As he 
spoke he approached the window : I sat down on the sill 
outside and lit a cigar. 

" Curiously enough indeed ! " said I. " May I be 
privileged to hear it?" 

He threw out one arm and recited — 

" * All Heaven's with us, so we Prudence win : 
If Fortune's hailed a goddess, ours the sin 1 '" 

" Pretty well for the spirit, but none too faithful to 
the letter," I remarked critically. " However, Dr John- 
son is open to the same objection. You remember — 

" * Celestial Wisdom calms the mind. 
And makes the happiness she does not findf.'" 

" I call that pretty bad." 

" Not much to the present point, anyhow," I agreed 
" I had another rhyme — and after all the rhyme's the 
difficulty. How about this? — 

" * All Heaven's ours if Prudence we can gain, 
Our silly hands build Fortune's empty mne I ' " 



252 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

*< Really you fire me to emulation,*' I said. *'I tfainli 
rU try my own hand at it — 

" * If Prudence loves, what other boon need I ?' " 

" Splendid I " he cried, puffing at his empty pipe. 

" ' Unless a bishop's palace by-and-by ?' " 

This audacious departure from the original affectec 
him powerfully. He laid a hand like a pair of tweezer 
on my wrist and cried excitedly — 

" You've been talking to her I " 

" So have you," said 1, " and to better purpose.'' 

By a subtle and rapid movement he was, in a moment 
outside the door and stood facing me in the little fron 
garden of the post office. 

'* I shouldn't wonder if they began tennis before tea, 
he remarked. 

'' You'll find somebody to play a single. Good-bye ! 
He was turning away eagerly when something occurre< 
to me. " Oh, by the way, Mr Davenport " 

"Yes?" 

" Do you think you'll ever be a bishop really ? " 

'' Only when I talk to her," he said, with a confusec 
yet candid modesty which I found agreeable. 

" Go and do homage for your temporalities," I said. 

" I say — her mother ! " whispered Mr Davenport. 

"She probably thought the same when she marriec 
the vicar." 

He smiled. " That's rather funny I " he cried back tc 
me, as he started off along the road. 

" So your son-in-law may think some day, my boy,' 
said I with a touch of ill-humour. No matter, he waf 
out of hearing. Besides I was not, I repeat, really 
serious about it — not half so serious, I venture tc 
conjecture, as the vicar's wife I 

To her, perhaps, Dr Johnson's paraphrase may be 
recommended. 



THE OPENED DOOR 

" AA/E ^*y float for ten minutes," said the Second 
W Officer. 

After a pause the passenger remarked : 
" Tm glad of it, upon my word I am." 
" You're thankful for small mercies," was the retort 
The passenger did not explain. He could not 
expect the Second Officer, or the rest of them, to 
sympathise with his point of view, or share the feelings 
which made him rejoice, not at the respite, but at the 
doom itself. Those who were not busy getting the 
women and children into the boats, and keeping the 
ship above water, were cursing the other vessel for 
steaming away without offering aid, or clutching in 
bewildered terror at anyone who could tell them how 
the collision had happened and what hope there was 
of salvation. The boats were got safely off, laden to 
their utmost capacity ; lifebuoys were handed round, 
and, when they ran short, men tossed up for them, and 
the losers ransacked the deck for some makeshift 
substitute. The passenger took no part in the com- 
petition or the search. He stood with his hands in his 
pockets and a smile on his lips, waiting for the ten 
minutes to wear themselves away. His only grudge 
against fate lay in those superfluous ten minutes. 

Left to himself, he began to think, lighting a cigarette. 
He had to use a fusee, which was a pity, especially for 
his last cigarette, but the wind blew fiercely. It was 
strange how much harm a man could do without being 
a particularly bad fellow, and what an impasse he could 
get himself into. He had drifted on, and things had 
fallen out so maliciously that, because of him who 

253 



154 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

hated hurting anybody, women were weeping and 
children smirched, and an old man hiding an honoured 
head in shame. He had even been required to be 
grateful to the man be hated most in the world, be- 
cause he had not been put in the dock. That stuck 
in his throat more than all the rest He had been 
ready to pay his shot and go to gaol — he would rather 
have done live years than owed the thanks for escaping 
them— but in very decency he couldn't insist on going; 
the trial would have killed the old man. So they had 
concocted a plan — a chance of a new life, they called 
it — and shipped him off to the other side of the world 
with fifty pounds in his pocket — the gift of that enemy. 
At least he could get rid of the money now ; and, still 
smiling, he dropped his pocket-book over the side into 
the great heaving waves. He had always meant it to 
go there — God forbid he should use it — but he had 
hardly hoped to go with it. He would follow it soon 
now. The door whose handle he had shrunk from 
turning had opened of its own accord in a most mar- 
vellously convenient way. To throw oneself overboard 
is a cold-blooded impossible sort of proceeding; the 
old man and the women would have heard of it, and 
he really didn't want to give them any more pain. But 
this catastrophe was — from a selBsh point of view — 
incredibly opportune. Such an exit had the dignity 
of the inevitable, and left the " new life " an agreeable 
hypothesis from which he doubted not that much com- 
fort would be sucked by those dear, loving, foolish folk 
at home. Much " new life " he would have led ! But 
let them think he would. And hurrah for a collision 
in deep water ! 

Five minutes gone — and they were deep in the water. 
The skipper was on the bridge ; the engineers had 
come up and, together with the crew and such of the 
passengers as had not got away in the boats, were 
standing ready to jump at the word. Some were pray- 
ing, some swearing, most discussing the matter in \ 



THE OPENED DOOR 255 

much the same tones as they used in speculating about 
the weather on deck after dinner; but they all kept 
their eyes on the skipper. 

" I shall just/' said the passenger, peering over the 
side, "go straight down. It oughtn't to take long/' 
and he shivered a little. It had just struck him that 
the process might be very unpleasant, however satis- 
factory the result 

There was a sudden movement of the deck under 
him. The skipper seemed to shout, and, waving his 
arms, began to run down from the bridge. Then every- 
body jumped. The passenger dropped his finished 
cigarette, kicked off his deck shoes — a purely instinctive 
action — and jumped too. " Here goes ! " he said. 

When he came up again, he found himself swimming 
strongly. His arms and legs were not asking his leave 
about it; they were fighting the water as they had 
been taught, and they promised to make a long bout 
of it. He had never felt so vigorous. It was great 
nonsense, prolonging the thing like this. If he had 
thought of it, he wouldn't have jumped so clear, then 
he would have been sucked down. He saw heads 
bobbing here and there about him ; one man shrieked 
aloud and disappeared. It was — less the shrieking — 
just what he wanted to do. But he couldn't It was 
all very well to want to die, but this strong body of his 
had a word to say to that Its business was to live, 
and it meant to live if it could. Well, it had always 
been a rebellious carcass — that was the cause of a great 
deal of the trouble — and it evidently meant to have its 
own way for this last time. 

And it began to infect him. For the life of him, he 
couldn't give in now. It was a fight between him and 
the water. He might have been a brute, and a rogue, 
and all the other pretty names that had come as sauce 
to that wretched fifty pounds, but he had never been a 
coward or shirked a fight It was all right — he must 
be drowned in the end. But he would keep it up as 



256 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

long as he could ; he would see it through ; and with 
strong strokes he met and mastered and beat down 
wave after wave, outlived head after head that sank 
round him, and saw the old ship herself go under with 
a mighty pother. 

All at once he found himself within reach of a spar. 
He was getting tired, though full of fight still, and he 
clutched at it for all the world as though he were in love 
with life. Hallo I There was a boy clinging to it — one 
of the ship's boys, whom he knew well. 

■' Get off"! " shrieked the boy, " Get off ! It's mine." 

" All right, Johnny, we'll share it." 

"It won't take us. Get off'. It's not fair. Oh, it's 
going under!" 

It was. The passenger let go, but kept close to it. 
It wouldn't bear Johnny and him, but it would bear 
Johnny alone ; it would also, probably, bear him alone. 
And he was getting very tired. Johnny saw his face 
and, clinging tight, began to cry. The passenger laid 
hold again. How jolly it was to have something under 
one's chest I Johnny had had it for a long while. And 
what's a ship's boy ? Besides, it's every man for him- 
self at such a time. 

Johnny's end ducked and Johnny's head dipped with 
it. Johnny came up whimpering piteously, and swore 
in childish ra^e at the intruder. He was not a pretty 
boy, and he looked very ugly when he swore. 

" You'll drown us both, you 1 " he gasped. 

" It would bear me." replied the passenger, " and you 
shouldn't swear, Johnny." 

Johnny blubbered and swore again. 

For an instant the passenger, resting as lightly as he 
could on the spar, watched Johnny's face. 

"You've kept afloat some time," he observed, with an 
approving air. He liked pluck in boys—even ugly 
whimpering boys. His end went under, and he came 
up gurgling and spitting. He felt now as if he had-no 
legs at all. 



THE OPENED DOOR 



257 



Johnny had stopped swearing, but was blubbering 
worse than ever. 

'^Damn it/' said the passenger, "haven't I made 
enough people do that?" And he added, "Ta-ta, 
Johnny," and let go the spar. 

His legs were there, after all, and they let him know 
it For time unmeasured he battled for the life he was 
weary of, and would not let himself be pushed through 
the open door. But at last he crossed its threshold. 

Johnny was drowned too. But then the passenger 
had always protested against his acts being judged 
by their consequences; and it doesn't seem fair to 
take it against him both ways. 



LOVE'S LOGIC 



The Scene is a hall or corridor^ lying between two c&n 
servatories, one on the rights the other an the le/i 
Besides plants and other ornaments, the corridor i 
furnished with a couch and a small round table wits 
an arm-chair by it. The time is between eleven am 
twelve in the evening. 

Mr Marchessoris back is visible in the doorway leading 
to the conservatory on the right 

TVyf R M. (^Speaking to unseen person in the conservatory. 
^^ So awfully sorry, but I absolutely promised to mee 
a man at the club. {Pause.) Beg pardon ? Oh, a felloe 
named Smith — you don't know him. {Pause.) Yes, 
hope we shall meet soon, but Tm rather afraid I ma] 
have to go out of town. {Pause.) Good-night. {Back 
a little further into the corridor.) Phew ! 

Miss Grainger's back appears in the doorway leading t 

tfie conservatory on the left. 

Miss G. {Speaking to unseen person in the conservatory. 
Yes, of course we shall be friends. What? {Pause. 
Oh yes, great friends. What ? {Pause.) I don't kno\ 
— I may be going out of town. Good-night. {Sh 
backs into the corridor^ throws her eyes upwards, am 
draws in her breath with a long sigh.) 

Mr M. meanwhile has taken out a cigarette^ and is Jus 
about to light it when they turn and see one anothet 
Both start, smile, and then become grave and rathe 
formal in manner. 

* Df-amatic Rights are reserved and protected as required by law. 

25S 



LOVE'S LOGIC 259 

Mr M. {Putting his hands — with the cigarette and the 
match-box — behind him.) Oh, I beg pardon I I didn't 
think anybody — {He turns as if to retreat into the con- 
servatory.) 

Miss G. Please don't go — and please do smpke. It's 
so nice and cool here, isn't it ? {She sits dawn on the 
couch and fans herself gently.) 

Mr M. May I really? {He comes forward a littUy 
holding up his cigarette^ You're sure you don't 
mind ? 

{She nods. He lights the cigarette^ 

Miss G. It's so warm in that conservatory. {Pointing 
to the left.) 

Mr M. {With feeling^ So it was in that one. {Point- 
ing to the right. He wipes his broWy she fans herself 
assiduously^ OufI 

Miss G. You do look rather — flustered. 

Mr M. Well — in fact — ^so do you. 

{They look at one another ^ trying to remain grave^ but 
presently both give a short embarrassed laugh. Mr 
M. comes a step nearer^ placing his hand on the back 
of the chair.) 

I've got it I I know the signs ! 

( She looks at him inquiringly and with amusement. He 
nods towards the conservatory on the left.) You've been 
refusing some fellow in there. 

Miss G. Have I ? {Pointing to the conservatory on the 
right.) And what have you been doing in there ? 

Mr M. {After a careful glance over his shoulder). As 
you didn't see the lady, I don't mind admitting that I've 
been doing the same thing. 

Miss G. {Raising her brows.) Refusing ? 

Mr M. Refusing — ^to ask. 

Miss G. Oh I 

Mr M. {He smokes vigorously^ then throws his cigarette 
into a receptacle.) It's a precious lot easier for you than 



i6o 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



for us, thougK. I say, 1 must sound like a conceited 
idiot, I know, but — well, you see, the fact is 

Miss G. That you're Mr Marchesson ? 

Mr M. {Pleased.) You know my name? 

Miss G. Oh yes. Mine's Grainger. 

Mr M, Yes. I — I know your name. Miss Grainger. 

Miss G, You're diamonds? {She touches some_}tkat 
she is wearing as she speaks. He nods gloomily.) 

I'm soap. {He glances for a brief instant at his hand.) 

So, of course ! {She shrugs her shoulders and closes 

her/an. A moment's pause.) 

Mr M. Beastly, isn't it? 

Miss G. Well, it's — monotonous. 

Mr M. It's worse than that. It's degrading, it's 
heart-breaking, it's ruin to the character. It saps my 
faith in humanity, it trammels my actions, it confines 
my affections, it cuts me off from friendship, from the 
pleasant and innocent companionships which my nature 
longs for. I alone mayn't look with the eye of honest 
admiration on a pretty girl, I alone mayn't 

Miss G. Sit in a conservatory? 

Mr M. {IVith a shudder.) Above all— not that! I 
tell you it's kept me single for years 1 And you for 

Miss G. Years ? 

Mr M. {Smiling.) Months I All last season and 
most of this 1 Take your case now 

Miss G. {Eagerly leaning forward.) Oh yes, let's f 

Mr M. You'd naturally enjoy men's society, you'd 
like their friendship, their company, their admiration- 
You'd enjoy an innocent but piquant flirtation. 

Miss G. Should I ? 

Mr M, {Looking at her.) Well, yes, I think 
would. You daren't venture on it ! 

Miss G. It is generally fatal, 1 admit 

Mr M, The plain truth is that the thing's intolerable. 
I shall stick a placard on my waistcoat — " Not foT] 
sale." 

Miss G. And I'd better become a hospital nurse 



LOVE'S LOGIC 261 

Mr M. That's rather an odd remedy, Miss Grainger. 
But, in some form or other, celibacy — public and avowed 
celibacy — is our only chance. (^He throws himself dawn 
in the chair.) 

Miss G. {Low.) Unless there was somebody who— 

Mr M. Didn't know who you were ? Not to be done 
in these days, with the illustrated press I And — ^you'll 
excuse my referring to it ? — but your fond father put 
you on the wrappings of the soap. And owing to the 
large sale of the article 

Miss G. Yes, I know. But I meant — if there was 
somebody who didn't-— didn't care about the money ? 

Mr M. {Half under his breath.) Said he didn't ! 

Miss G. And who— who really did care just for — 
for oneself alone? Oh, I must sound romantic and 
absurd ; but you — you know what I mean, Mr Mar- 
chesson ? There are such men, aren't there ? 

Mr M. Well, admitting there was one — and it's a 
handsome admission, which I limit entirely to the male 
sex — in the first place you wouldn't believe in him half 
the time, and in the second he wouldn't believe in him- 
self half the time, and in the third none of your friends 
would believe in him any of the time. 

Miss G. That would bie horrid — especially the friends, 
I mean. 

Mr M. Female friends ! 

Miss G. Of course. 

Mr M. Another disgusting aspect of the business! 
Do you — do I — ever get legitimate credit for our 
personal attractions? Never! Never! 

Miss G. ( With conviction.) That's awfully true. 

Mr M. So even your paragon, if you found him, 
wouldn't meet the case. And as for my paragon, 
nobody but Diogenes would take on the job of find- 
ing her. 

Miss G. {Musing.) Is nobody indifferent to money? 

Mr M. Only if they've got more than they want 
{He gives a glance at her^ unperceived by her^ rises^puts 



262 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



kii hands in kis fockets, and looks at ker.) Only tile 
unhappy rich. 

Miss G. {Roitsed from abstraction.') 1 beg pardon, 

what? 

Mr M. Imagine a man surfeited, cloyed, smothered 
in it; a man who has to pay six other men to look 
after it ; a man who can't live because of the income- 
tax, and daren't die because of the death duties ; a man 
overwhelmed with houses he can't live in, yachts he 
can't sail, horses he can't ride ; a man in whom the milk 
of human kindness is soured by impostors, and for 
whom even " deserving cases " have lost their charm ; 

a man who's been round the d d world — I beg your 

pardon, really I beg your pardon — who's been round 
the wretched world twice, and shot every beast on it at 
least once ; who is sick of playing, and daren't work for 
fear of making a profit 

Miss G. It almost sounds as if you were describing 
yourself. 

Mr M. Oh no, no! No! At least— er— if at all, 
quite accidentally. I'll describe _y(?« now, if you like. 

Miss G. I get absolutely no thrill out of a new frock J 

Mr M. There it is— in a nutshell, by Jingo ! Miss 
Grainger, we have found the people we want, the people 
who are indifferent to money, and would — that is, migfat 
— marry us for love alone. 

Miss G. {Laughing.) You mean — one another? 
That's really rather an amusing end to our philosophis- 
ing, isn't it ? {She rises, laughing still, and holds out her 
hand.) Good-night. 

Mr M. {Indignantly.) Good-night be 1 Why, 

our talk's just got to the most interesting point 1 

Miss G. Well, you ought to know — you've been doing 
most of it yourself 

Mr M. Oh, but don't go I I— I'll do it better— and 
perhaps quicker too — if you'll stay a bit 

Miss G. {Sitting again, with a laugh.) I'll give yoa 
just five minutes to wind up the argument 



LOVE'S LOGIC 263 

Mr M. The conclusion's obvious in logic. I ought 
to offer you my hand in marriage, and you ought to 
accept 

Miss G. {Laughing.) Logic is logic, of course, Mr 
Marchesson — but we've never even been introduced ! 
I don't think you need feel absolutely compelled to go 
through the ceremony you suggest. We'll be illc^ical, 
and say good-night. 

Mr M. You admit the logic? You see the force of 

it? 

Miss G. Women don't act by logic, though. 

Mr M. It's always at least a good excuse. 

Miss G. If you want one, yes. {She is about to rise 
again,) 

Mr M. I do want one. 

{She shakes her head^ laughing.) 

I'm serious. 

Miss G. You don't really want me to think that? 
The very first time we meet? The lady in there 
{pointing to the conservatory on the right) must have 
frightened you terribly indeed ! 

Mr M. Until the logic of the thing struck me — which 
happened only to-night — I thought it no good to try to 
know you. 

Miss G. I don't suppose you ever thought about it 
at all. 

Mr M. I had nothing to give you — and you had 
nothing to give me! So it seemed in the days of 
illogicality. Now it's all different. So I insist on^ — 
the ceremony. 

Miss G. {Laughing, but a little agitated.) Go on, then. 
But your logic doesn't bind me, you know. 

{He comes and sits on the couch by her.) 

Yes, that's quite right — but don't put too much 
feeling into it. It — it's only logic 1 No, I — I don't 
think I want you to go on. I — I don't think it's a good 
joke. 

Mr M. It's not a joke. I've never been introduced 



264 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

to you, you say. I've never spoken to yx>u before 
to-night, I know. But you're not a stranger to me. 
There have been very few days in the last three montfas 
when I haven't managed to see you 

Miss G. {Law.) Managed to see me — maH€ig€d? 

Mr M. Yes — ^though I must say you go to some 
places which but for your presence would Be very dull. 
I stuck at none of them, Miss Grainger. I swallowed 
every one ! Did you ever notice me ? 

Miss G. Of course not 

{He looks at her,) 

Of course I've seen you, but I never noticed you. 

{He continues to look at her.) 

Not specially, at anyrate. 

Mr M. I suppose I must have been there a hundred 
times. How often did you notice me ? 

Miss G. How absurd ! I'm sure I don't remember. 
Very seldom. 

Mr M. Don't you remember even the first time ? 

Miss G. Oh yts^ that was at the No, certainly I 

don't 

Mr M. Yes, it was at the Phillips's ! 

{She smiles against her will. He also smiles.) 

I'm glad you remember. 

Miss G. You stared so — disyou may perhaps remember. 

Mr M. Have I stared every time? 

Miss G. Very often, anyhow. 

Mr M. You noticed that ? 

Miss G. Every time I noticed you, I noticed that. 

Mr M. And you noticed that very often ! Therefore 
you noticed me 

Miss G. Please, no more logic I 

Mr M. And yet you try to treat me as a stranger ! 

Miss G. It is rather a matter of trying with you, isn't 
it ? You're not very susceptible to the treatment. 

Mr M. And pretend to be surprised at my wanting 
to marry you I If the logic of it still leaves you 
doubtful 



LOVE'S LOGIC 265 

Miss G. Doubtful 1 I never said I was doubtful I 

Mr M. Look at the romantic side ! How romantic it 
would be to throw yourself away on riches ! Did you 
never think about that ? Not when I — stared ? 

Miss G. I didn't exactly mean that you exactly stared. 

You — ^you — you Oh, you really might help me 

out 1 What did you do ? 

Mr M. I'd so much rather hear you say it 

Miss G. Well, right from the beginning there was 
something in your look — I mean the way you looked at 
me — I can't describe it, but it got more and more like 
that. 

Mr M. Yes, I believe I meant it to. 

Miss G. Never forward or— or impertinent Just nice, 
Mr Marchesson. 

Mr M. I say, was that a good chap you refused in 
there {indicating the conservatory to the left) a thousand 
years ago ? 

Miss G. Very — ^so handsome I I liked him awfully. 
And the girl you refused 

Mr M. To ask 

Miss G. In there? {Indicating the conservatory to the 
right.) 

Mr M. Really, you know — impartially speaking — a 
ripper ! Why did we ? 

MissG. What? 

Mr M. I said, " Why did we?" 

Miss G. Was it — a thousand years ago ? Yes ? 

Mr M. Which certainly makes it absurd to call us 
strangers. 

Miss G. I wasn't thinking any more about that Oh, 
you do ? 

Mr M. I do — mean it 

Miss G. {Rising.) I think that — after all — it wouldn't 
be so bad in — in 

Mr M. The conservatory ? 

( They look at one another and laugh,) 

Miss G. It's terribly absurd even to think about it. 



266 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Mr M. It's absolutely l(^cal 1 And, by the way, if s 
time I put my question. 

Miss G. Haven't you ? 

Mr M. Then it's time you gave your answer. 

Miss G. {Putting her hands in lus^ Haven't I ? 

Mr M. There'll be a great deal of talk about this to- 
morrow ! {He offers her his arm^ and they go towards the 
conservatory on the left.) Oh, your conservatory ? No 1 

Miss G. Yours would be just as bad. 

Mr M. Then stay here. 

Miss G. Take me to my carriage. And— ^and come 
and see if I'm not perfectly logical to-morrow. 

{He releases her arm and kisses her hand. She adds in 
a law voice :) And — somehow — it is absurd — so wonder- 
fully happy to-night 1 Will you come with me ? 

Mr M. Will I live ? Come 1 Quick — ^through your 
conservatory I {He puts his arm round her waist.) Come! 

{They disappear into the conservatory on the left.) 

Curtain 



LA MORT A LA MODE' 

MONSIEUR LE DUG— MADAME LA 

MARQUISE 

{The tumbrU is the last of a row of severed^ sonu of which 
have lefty some of which stand at^ the gates of the 
Conciergerie. The others are fully in this the Duc 
is alone. At the beginning of the conversation the 
tumbril stands stilly later it is moving slowly ^ escorted 
through a turbulent crowd by National Guards to 
its destination in the Place Louis Quinze {Place de 
la Revolution^ The time is noon of a fine dcty 
during the Reign of Terror,) 

F)UC. Alone! My luck holds to the last They're 
^^ close as fish in a tub in the others — and by strange 
chance every man next to his worst enemy — or at least 
his best friend's husband I These rascals have no con- 
sideration. Ah, somebody coming here ! I've to have 
company after all. A woman too— deuce take it ! {A 
lady is assisted into the tumbril. The Duc rises^ bows, 
aud starts,) Marquise! (The lady sinks on the bench 
across the tumbril^ You here ! {He tcdies snuff and 
murmurs : ) Awkward 1 {Pauses and murmurs again : ) 
Even her ! Curse the hounds I 

Marquise. I — I heard you had escaped. 

Duc. Ah, madame, I can no longer expect justice from 
you — only mercy. And — excuse me— M. le Marquis ? 

Marquise. He — he has gone — 

Duc. Ah yes, yes. He went before us ? I remember 
now. Er — my condolences, Marquise. But on what 
pretext are you ? 

^ Dramatic Rights are nsifved andpntecUd as repdred by law. 
267 



268 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Marquise. They say that, as his wife, I shared 
designs and was in his confidence. 

Due. How little they know of the world ! {Smilimg^ 
As his wife — in his confidence I How simple the black- 
guards are I {Looks at her.) I protest I feel my 
presence inopportune. 

Marquise. No. {She holds out a little silver box^ Will 
you hold this for me ? {He takes it.) You may look. 
{Opening it ke finds rouge and a powder-puff. The 
Marquise smiles faintly.) 

Due. {Shutting box.) On my honour you've no need 
of it this morning. Your cheeks display the most 
charming flush. Ah, we move. {She starts.) Yes, 
yes, it jolts horribly. But I won't drop the rouge. 

Marquise. Will it take long ? 

Due. It? {Shrugs his shoulders.) Oh, before you 
know — before you know I 

Marquise. No, no — I mean the journey. 

Due. Ah, the journey! It will seem short now. 
Before you came, I feared the tedium — though the 
crowd's amusing enough. Look at that fellow ! Why 
in heaven's name does he shake his fist at me ? He's not 
one of my people, not even from my province. {Smiles 
at the crowd and seats himself by the MARQUISE.) You're 
silent. Ah, I remember, now I remember ! When we 
parted last, you vowed you'd never speak to me again. 

Marquise. I thought I never should. 

Due. The things we think we never shall do include 
all the most delightful things we do. 

Marquise. You seem to flatter yourself, monsieur. I 
meant what I said then : but times are changed. 

Due. Faith, yes ! The times more than I. 

Marquise. More than you ? Ah, changeful times I 

Due. And their changes bring more grief than any 
of mine could. 

Marquise. Oh, as for grief— I It was your rudeness 
I deplored, more than my loss. 

Due. I am never rude, madame. I may have been 



LA MORT A LA MODE 269 

Marquise. {Low.) Unfaithful? 

Due. {Low,) Unworthy, madame. {She looks at him 
for a moment and sighs. He smiles and is about to speak 
when a great shout is heard from the direction of the Place 
Louis Quinse. She starts^ turns a little paUy and involun- 
tarily stretches out a hand to him.) 

Marquise. What's that? What's happening? 

Due. Oh, they're excited! In truth, my dear 
Marquise, I have long wished 

Marquise. No, no — what was the shouting? 

Due. Well — er — in faet, I imagine that the first of our 
friends must have arrived. 

Marquise. {Low,) Arrived! {He smiles^ takes her 
hand and kisses it^ then holds out the rouge-box with an 
air of mockery^ No, no — I won't 

Due. Why, no! We've no need of it. Let me 
bring the eolour to your eheeks. Onee on a time I — 
well, at least I have been there when it eame. Ah, it 
eomes now ! Listen to me. I have long wished to 

Marquise. To explain ? 

Due. {SmUing,) Ah, you were always a little — a 
little — exacting. No, no; nobody ean explain these 
things. I wished only to 

Marquise. You daren't apologise ! 

Due. Ah, and you never were quite just to my good 
breeding. No again ! I wished to tell you frankly that 
I made a very great mistake. {A voice from the crowd 
shouts " To Hell with them / " The Duc laughs,) The 
Church's prerogatives follow the King's ! Ah well ! A 
terrible mistake, Marquise. 

Marquise. {Low, but eagerly,) You suspected me 
of ? Was that why you ? 

Duc. No. I suspected her. 

Marquise. Her ? But of what ? 

Duc. Of wit, madame, and of charm. I was most 
unjust 

Marquise. {Smiling,) And not perhaps of one other 
^hing — in which respect you were unjust too ? 



^^o TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Due. {Looking at her a moment and then smiUng^ 
No, no— on my honour I was not refused. 

Marquise. Oh, not refused ! {She turns 4tway,) 

Due. Shall I tell you the reason of that ? 

Marquise. Can't I — I at least — guess the reason ? 

Due. You least of all can guess it I did not ask, 
Marquise. 

Marquise. ( Turning quickly to him.) You didn't ? 

Due. On my word, no. You'll ask me why not? 

Marquise. Why not, indeed? It was unlike you, 
monsieur. 

Due. I thought of you — and behold, it became im- 
possible. At the moment your image {Another 

great shout is heard.) Hum, they never get tired of the 
sight, it seems. {He glances at the MARQUISE, but she has 
not noticed the shout. He takes her hand and presses it 
gently.) 

Marquise. Is it true? You ought to tell the truth 
now. 

Due. Now? {Laughs.) Ah, yes I 

Marquise. Really true? {She draws her hand envoy 
sharply^ 

Due. You don't believe me ? 

Marquise. Yes, I believe you. But — but how stupid 
you were, monsieur ! 

Due. Eh? 

Marquise. How stupid, you were, monsieur. 

Due. True. {Takes snuff,) True, by heaven! I 
was — monstrous stupid. 

Marquise. To think that you eould 

Due. Love her ? 

Marquise. Forget me, monsieur. Alas, I lose all my 
pride in {Pauses,) 

Due. In ? {Pauses. They smile and she blushes.) 

Marquise. In any compliments you may have paid 
me. 

Due. {Softly,) You won't forgive me ? Well, it's the 
fashion now I I must die twice to-day ? 



LA MORT A LA MODE 271 

Marquise. Twice — die twice 1 {Looks at him and 
trembles a littU.) I — I had almost forgotten what — 
where we were. {A fierce shout is heard^ sounding nearer 
now,) Louis» they'll — they'll do nothing worse than — 
kill me ? You don't answer, Louis ! 

Due. Yes, yes. There's no fear — no fear of that. 

Marquise. But you hesitated. 

Due. {Low.) If we must talk of death, pray let it be 
of mine. {She glances at him and lays her hand on his 

for a moment^ Yours seems too— too {Smiles.) I 

want a word. Well, too incongruous, dear Marquise. 

Marquise. I have confessed — and forgiven all my 
enemies. 

Due Am I your enemy? Have you no forgiveness 
left for friends ? {She looks at him gravely for a moment^ 
then smiles reluctantly,) Why, we were growing grave ! 
That would be a bad ending. 

Marquise. The most seemly ending I 

Due. For me? Oh, oh. Marquise I They'd think 
they'd got hold of the wrong man. Your hand's a 
trifle cold. 

Marquise. {Laughing nervously.) Well, if it is? 
We've stopped again I Are we near now ? 

Due. At the entrance of the Place^ I believe. {Looks 
at her and goes on quickly.) You and I have walked 
here together before now. You remember? Alone 
together — so often. {Rises.) Forgive me — as you face 
towards the Place the sun is in your eyes. Pray sit the 
other way. It's pleasanter to look towards the river — 
cooler to the eye. You remember our walks, dear 
Marquise ? 

Marquise. You still look towards the Placey 
though. 

Due. {Laughing.) Why yes I I can't have the dogs 
saying I daren't 

Marquise. Are they to say it of me then, monsieur? 
{She rises and stands by him, looking towards the Place, 
where the scaffold is now visible,) 



272 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Due. {Removing his hat and bowing humbfy.) I b^ 
your pardon. 

Marquise. ( Vety low.) Dear Louis, dear Louis ! 

Due. I thought life done. I was wrong a thousand 
times ! 

Marquise. I cried when you 

Due. Ah, if I beg them to torture me Would 

that atone? 

Marquise. They found me crying. Think of the 
humiliation I 

Due. Oh, I must have a talk with a priest — after all 
I must I {She turns away with a sob and then a gasping 
laugh,) Ay, that's life, dearest Marquise — and perhaps 
it's the other thing too. 

Marquise. I care less now, Louis. 

Due. Give me your hand a minute. Yes, it's warmer 
now. And the rouge — why, madame, I swear the rouge 
is utterly superfluous ! Shall we throw it to the mob? 
It's their favourite colour. I'll leave it in the cart — 
when they turn on one another, some hero may be glad 
of it Margot, dear Margot, are you cold ? I thought 
you shivered as your arm touched mine. 

Marquise. (Low,) No. I'm — I'm just a little afraid, 
Louis. 

Due. Oh no, no, no — Margot, no. You're cold. Or— 
{Smiling,) Come, flatter me. Say it's agitation — say 
it's joy. Come, Margot, say that I 

Marquise. {Drawing nearer,) They didn't know what 
they were doing when they sent me with you. 

Due. The ignorance of the fellows is extraordinary. 

Marquise. Because — everybody knew. 

Due. Alas, I was never too discreet I {More shouts 
are heard. The Guard in charge of the tumbril cries 
''Ready? W^re the last:*) Hum! For to-day, I 
suppose he means ! {He looks at her; her lips are 
moving. He takes off his hat and stands bareheaded. 
The movement of her lips ceases and she turns to him. 
He smiles,) I think you can have little need of prayer. 



LA MORT A LA MODE 273 

Marquise. You say that ? You ? 

Due. Yes, I say that, Margot. {Thwart at the foot of 
the scaffold now.) As for me — well, I have always 
followed the fashion — and prayers are not the fashion 
now. I was bitten by M. de Voltaire. By the way, 
perhaps he's had something to do with this— and we 
made him the fashion I How whimsical I ( The National 
Guard turns and points his finger towards the scaffold,) 
What? Oh, at your service, monsieur. {He turns to 
the Marquise, smiling.) I must leave you — this time in 
love. 

Marquise. {Stretching out her hancb,) Let me go 
first 

Due. On my soul, I couldn't ! {Softly,) The way is 
dark, let me show it you. 

Marquise. Louis, Louis I 

Due. And now — look now towards the river. Pray 
— towards the river ! I want you to remember me at 
my best. And — Margot — ^vou mustn't — you mustn't 
want the rouge. Your hand's warm — still warm. 

Marquise. ( Vehemently.) I will go first. I — I can't 
see you — I will go first. 

Due. Your will is my law always. {She turns to 
descend.) It has been pleasant to come with you. 

Marquise. It was — easier — to come with you. 

Due. I am forgiven, Margot? 

Marquise. Louis, dear Louis I {He raises her hand to 
his lips. She goes. He stands bareheaded^ fo^^g the 
scaffold while she suffers. Then he puts his hat on and 
mounts the scaffold. They cany past him the basket con- 
taining her head. A priest holds a crucifix before him. 
He starts and bows to the priest^ 

Due. I beg your pardon, father, but — I knew the lady 
very well. She died bravely, eh? Pardon? Think 
how we have lived as well as how we die? Yes, yes ; 
most just and — er — apposite. Die truly penitent ? Ah 
yes, yes. Forgive me — I'm not master of my time. 
{He bows and turns to the executioner and his assistants.) 




274 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



Don't keep me waiting. My desire is to follow Madame 
la Marquise. What? *" The woman died well ! " God 
save us — the woman I Well, as you please. Shall we 

say {He places himself befuaih the hm/e.) Shall we 

say — Margot ? Nobody was ever like MwcgoL (Smiles^ 
then hohs tsp,) Well ? Oh, you wait for me. Good I 
Messieurs^ allez I 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS 

RUNA 



I 

TJ AVING reduced the rest of his kingdom to obedi- 
^-^ ence in three arduous campaigns, King Stanislas 
sat himself down with a great army before the strong 
place of Or, which was held against him by Runa, 
daughter of Count Theobald the Fierce. For Countess 
Runa said that since her father had paid neither obedi- 
ence nor tribute to the King's father for fifty years, 
neither would she pay obedience or tribute to the King, 
nor would she open the city gates to him save at her 
own time and by her own will. So the King came 
and enveloped the city on all sides, so that none could 
pass in or out, and sent his heralds to Countess Runa 
demanding surrender ; in default of which he would 
storm the ramparts, sack the city, and lay the citadel 
level with the earth, in such wise that men should not 
remember the place where it had been. 

Sitting on her high chair, beneath the painted window 
through which the sun struck athwart her fair hair, 
Runa heard the message. 

"Tell the King — for a king he is, though no king 
of mine — that we are well armed and have knights of 
fame with us. Tell him that we are provisioned for 
more months than he shall reign years, and that we 
will tire him sooner than he can starve us." 

She ceased speaking, and the principal herald, bowing 
low, asked : " Is that all the message?" 

"No, there is more. Tell him that the daughter 

275 



176 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

of Count Theobald the Fierce rnks in the dty of 
Dr.- 

Bowing again, tlie principal herald asked : " Is that 
all the message?" 

Runa sat s^ent for a minute. Then she said : ** No^ 
there is more. Tell the King that he must carry tiie 
citadel before he can pass the ramparts." 

The principal herald frowned, then smiled and said : 
' But with deference, madam, how can that be ? For 
the citadel is high on a rock, and the city lies round 
it below, and again round the city lie the ramparts. 
How, then, shall the King carrj' the citadel before ? " 

Runa raised her brows in weauiness. 

" Your speech is as long as your siege will be," she 
said. " You are a mouthpiece. Sir Herald, not an in- 
terpreter. Begone, and say to the King what I have 
given >'ou to say." 

So the heralds returned to King Stanislas and gave 
him Runa's answer ; but the King, in his wrath, listened 
more to the first part of it than to the last, and assaulted 
the ramparts fiercely for three days. But Runa's men 
rolled his men back with loss and in confusion, for 
they were in good heart because of the message Runa 
had sent. *' For," they said, " our Countess has bidden 
the King perform what is impossible before she will 
yield the city ; and as we trusted Theobald the father, 
so we trust the daughter Runa." 

After his three assaults had failed, King Stanislas 
waited in quiet for a month, drawing his cordon yet 
more closely round the city. Then he sent again to 
the Countess, saying that he would spend the first half 
of his reign outside the walls of Or, provided he could 
spend the second half of it inside the same ; yet if she 
would yield now, she should have his favour and all 
her wealth ; but if she would not yield, she must await 
starvation and sack and the extremity of his anger. 
To which summons she answered only: "Tell the 
King that he must carry the citadel before he can pass 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 277 

the ramparts." And she would say no more to the 
heralds. 

" A plague on her I " cried Stanislas. " A plague on 
the woman and her insolent riddles ! Of what appear- 
ance is she ? I have never seen her." 

" As the sun for beauty and the moon for dignity," 
said the principal herald, whose occupation naturally 
bred eloquence. 

" Stuff! " said King Stanislas very crossly. 

The herald bowed, but with an offended air. 

" Does she seem sane ? " asked Stanislas. 

" Perfectly sane, sire," answered the herald. " Al- 
though, as your Majesty deigns to intimate, the purport 
of her message is certainly not such as might reason- 
ably be expected from a lady presumably endowed 
with " 

" I am ready for the next audience," said King 
Stanislas to his Chamberlain. 

And after the next audience he sat down and 
thought. But, as often happens with meaner men, 
he took nothing by it, except a pain in the head and 
a temper much the worse. So that he ordered three 
more assaults on the ramparts of the City of Or, which 
ended as the first three had ; and then sent another 
summons to Countess Runa, to which she returned the 
same answer. And for the life of him the King could 
see in it no meaning save that never in all his life 
should he pass the ramparts. " Only an army of birds 
could do what she says! "he declared peevishly. In- 
deed he was so chagrined and shamed that he would 
then and there have raised the siege and returned to 
the capital, had it not been for the unfortunate circum- 
stance that, on leaving it, he had publicly and solemnly 
vowed never to return, nor to show himself to his lieges 
there, unless and until he should be master of the City 
of Or. So there he was, unable to enter either city, 
and saddled with a great army to feed, winter coming 
on, and the entire situation, as his Chancellor observed, 



278 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

full of perplexity. On the top of all this, too, the 
were constant sounds and signs of merriment ao 
plenty within the city, and the Countess's men, wh< 
they had eaten, took to flinging the bones of tha 
meat to the besiegers outside — an action most tnsultiq 
however one might be pleased to interpret it. 

Meanwhile Countess Runa sat among her ladies aa 
knights, on her high chair under the emblazoned u-tndoi 
with the sun striking athwart her fair hair. Often si 
smiled ; once or twice she sighed. Perhaps she wa 

wondering what King Stanislas would do next an 

when he would understand her message. 



II 



4 



There was with King Stanislas' army a certain friai 
named Nicholas, a man who was pious, brave, and 
cheerful, although, in the judgment of some, more given 
to good-fellowship and conviviality than became hts 
sacred profession. He was a shrewd fellow too, and 
had a good wit ; and for all these qualities Stanislas 
held him in good will and allowed him some degree 
of familiarity. Friar Nicholas had heard the Countess 
Runa's message, which, indeed, had leaked through 
the army and been much discussed and canvassed 
round the camp fires. The friar had listened to all 
the talk, agreeing with every man in turn, nodding 
his head wisely, but holding his tongue closely. No 
man heard him utter any opinion whatsoever as to 
what Countess Runa meant — supposing her to mean 
anything save defiance pure and simple. 

One night, when the King sat in his tent very moody 
and sore out of heart with his undertaking, the flap of 
the tent was lifted, and Friar Nicholas stood there. 

" I did not summon you," said the King. 

" David did not summon Nathan," said Nicl 
" But he came to him." 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 279 

" What ewe-lamb is it that I have taken ? " Stanislas 
asked, smiling, for he was glad to be rid of bis thoughts 
and have company. " Let Nathan drink with David/' 
he added, pushing a flagon of wine towards Nicholas, 
who, on this invitation, let the flap of the tent fall 
behind him and came in. " Is the ewe-lamb this one 
city which of all the realm holds out against me? 
Is Or the ewe-lamb of Countess Runa?" 

" The City of Or is the ewe-lamb," said Nicholas, after 
he had drunk. 

" But in the first place, O Prophet, I have not taken 
it — a curse on it ! And, in the second, it is mine by 
right, as by right it was my father's before me. Why, 
then, am I to be denounced by my holy Prophet ? " 

" I do not come to denounce you for having taken it, 
but to show you how to take it," answered Nicholas. 
And he stood there, in the centre of the tent, wrapping 
his frock close round him. " O King," said he, " I will 
put a question to you." 

The King leant back in his chair. '* I will listen and 
answer," he said. 

"Where is the citadel of an army, O King?" asked 
Nicholas. 

"An army has no citadel," answered the King. "A 
city has a citadel, a fortress of stone or of brick, set in 
the middle of it and on high. But an army lies in tents 
or on the bare ground, moving hither and thither. An 
army has no citadel, O Prophet I Are you answered ? " 

" Where is the citadel of an army, O King ? " asked 
Nicholas again. 

"An army has no citadel," replied the King. "A 
city that is made of brick and of stone has a citadel. 
But an army is not of brick and stone, but is made and 
composed only of men, of their flesh and bones, their 
sinews and muscles, their brains and hearts. An army 
has no citadel, O Prophet I Arc you answered ? " 

" Where is the citadel of an army, O King ? " asked 
Nicholas for the third time. 



iSo TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Then, seeing that he had a meaning, the King took 
thought ; for many minutes he sat in meditation, while 
Nicholas stood in the centre of the tent, never moving, 
with his eyes set on the King's face. 

At last the King answered. 

*' An army has a citadel," he said. ** The citadel of 
an army is the stout heart of him who leads it. His 
heart is its citadel, O Prophet 1 Are you answered ? " 

''You have spoken it I am answered, O King!" 
said Nicholas, and he turned and went out from the 
King's tent 

But the King sprang to his feet with an eager cry. 
"It is not otherwise with a city!'* he cried. "And 
before I can pass the ramparts of Or, I must carry the 
citadel ! " 



III 

Countess Runa sat in her high chair under the em- 
blazoned window of the great hall, with her ladies and 
knights about her, and one of her officers craved leave 
to bring a prisoner into her presence. Leave given, the 
officer presented his charge — a tall and comely young 
man, standing between two guards, yet bearing himself 
proudly and with a free man's carriage of his head. His 
hair was dark, his eyes blue, his shoulders broad ; he was 
long in the leg and lean in the flank. Runa suffered her 
eyes to glance at him in approval. 

" Where did you find him ? " she asked of the officer. 

" He came late last night to the southern gate," the 
officer answered, " and begged asylum from the anger 
of King Stanislas." 

" He's a deserter, then ? " she asked, frowning a little. 

"He has told us nothing. He would tell his story, 
he said, to your Highness only." 

" Let him speak," she said, taking a peacock fan from 
one of her ladies and half hiding her face behind it 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 281 

" Speak, prisoner/' said the officer. 

" If I am a prisoner, it is by my own will/' said the 
stranger ; " but I was in such straits that my will had 
no alternative save to cause me to throw myself on the 
mercy of your Highness. Yet I am no traitor, and wish 
naught but good to my lord King Stanislas." 

" Then you had best wish that he shall return to his 
own city and leave mine alone/' said Runa. 

The knights smiled and the ladies tittered. The 
stranger took no heed of these things, nor, as it seemed, 
of her Highness's remark. 

" I was high in the King's confidence/' he said. " He 
deemed me a wise man, and held that I knew all that 
was to be known, and that by my aid alone he could 
discover all that was hidden, and unravel any riddle, 
however difficult. Through three victorious campaigns 
I was by his side, and then he brought me to the walls 
of Or, not ^doubting that by my valour and counsel he 
should be enabled to make himself master of the city. 
I do not boast I repeat only what the King has many 
a time said of me, both publicly and when we two were 
alone." 

" Then one man at least has a good esteem of you/' 
said Runa. " Indeed, as I think, two." 

Again the ladies tittered and the knights smiled. But 
the stranger was unmoved. 

" Then/' he went on in a smooth equable voice whose 
rich tones struck pleasantly on their ears and made the 
ladies sorry for their mocking, " came the day, fatal to 
me, when your Highness was pleased to send his Majesty 
a message. For when the King asked me the meaning 
of your riddle — asked how a man could carry the citadel 
before he passed the ramparts — I told him to take no 
heed of it, for it was an idle vaunt. And he believed 
me and assaulted the ramparts three times in vain. 
And in vain brave men died. Again came your message, 
and when the King asked me the meaning of it, I said 
it was insolent defiance. And he believed me, and as- 



282 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



saulted the ramparts three times in vain. And in vail 
brave men died. Then came the message a third tin« 
and the King demanded of me the meaning of it. Ba 
I did not know the meaning, and, lest more men shouli 
die. I confessed to him that I could not read the riddle. 

"You learnt wisdom late and at a cost," said Rum 
setting her eyes on him over the top of the peacock fan 

"When I confessed that, he called me a blockheac 
and, with many hard words, told me plainly that all mj 
credit stood on my reading him that riddle, and reading 
it, the third time, right ; and that if 1 could not read it, 
I could never see home again nor my own people, bul 
that my life must end here outside the walls of the city, 
and end in disgrace and defeat. So the King said ta 
me in his wrath, and in fear of him and of the dealli 
he threatened I stole by night from his camp and de. 
livered myself to the officer of your Highness's watch 
at the southern gate of the city." 

" What do you want of me ? " asked Runa. 

"Either the answer to the riddle, that I may cany 
it back to the King forthwith and have his favoui 
again " 

"And failing that?" said Runa. smiling. 

" Leave to abide here for a while, in the hope that by 
my own wit I may discover the meaning," 

The knights laughed and murmured scornfully, bul 
the ladies, on whom the stranger's appearance had madfl 
no small impression, sighed sadly, as though it were 
lamentable to hear a personable brave man ask such 
foolish things, But Runa sank her head in thought 
When she raised her eyes she met those of the stranger 
fixed full on her. They gleamed blue and keen, A 
faint flush rose on Runa's cheek — or was it a red light 
from the painted window over her head ? 

"Seven days and seven nights you may abide here," 
she said, "but on condition that at the end of that time 
my officers deliver you to your King again. If by then 
you have read the riddle, it will be good for the King 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 283 

and for you. But if you have not read it, let it be evil 
for you as for him — evil unto death. How say you ? " 

" I accept the condition, and I will abide," said the 
stranger. 

Runa signed that he should be led forth. '' And leave 
me alone, all of you," she said. 



IV 

Seven days and seven nights, then, the stranger abode 
in the city. Every day he held speech with Runa, both 
in the great hall, with the ladies and the knights, and 
privately. Much he told her concerning the kingdom 
and the King, and she showed him all the wealth and 
power of her city. But when she bade him speak of 
himself, he would answer, " I am nothing without the 
King," and would say no more of himself, so that she 
was full of wonder about him, and pondered more and 
more as to who he was and whence he came. And 
meanwhile the King's army lay idle in its tents and 
made no assault on the ramparts. 

At last, on the third day, she said to him : " Tell me 
why the King your master leaves all his great kingdom 
and makes war on my poor city ? " 

"The King," he answered, "makes war that peace 
may come, and union, and power. In three years he 
has brought peace to all the kingdom. This city alone 
is left, a foe set among friends, disobedient among the 
obedient, a weakness amidst that which is strong. 
Without the kingdom the city is nothing, and without 
the city the kingdom is feeble." 

Runa knit her brows and heard him in silence. But 
after a while she said : 

" Had the King sent an embassy to me with these 
words, it may be that I should have listened. But he 
sent me only a summons to surrender." 

The next day she sent for him again and said : " If 



284 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

I give up my city and submit myself to the King, what 
am I then — I who was Runa of Or ? " 

" Vou will be high in the King's counsel and in bis 
love," he answered. 

" I do not covet the King's love," said Rana, knittiiig 
her brows again. 

" You do not know what it is, madam," he said softly. 

On the fifth day she sent for him again, and privately, 
and said to him : 

" If I give up my city and subniit myself to the King, 
and there is peace in the kingdom such as there has nol 
been since the day my father Count Theobald ruled in 
Or, what will the King do?" 

" He will enrich the kingdom, and make it fair ami 
secure it against all foes." 

" And what will you do ? " she asked. 

"1 shall be by the King's side," he answered, "if by 
chance I can give him good counsel." 

" And he will reward you with high honour ? " 

" All honour is at once mine if I read the riddl^" he 
replied. 

" You have not read it ? " 

" I seek to read it in your eyes," he answered boldly, 
and Runa turned her glance away from him, lest he 
should read the riddle there. 

On the seventh day, in the evening, she sent for him 
again in secret, unknown to any of her knights or ladies. 
The great hall in which she sat alone was dimly lighted ; 
only her face, her fair hair, and her rich robe of white 
gleamed from the gloom. He came and stood before 
her. 

" To-morrow at sunrise," she said, " I must deliver 
you to the King your master according to our agree- 
ment. What gift do you carry in your hand toti 
wrath into favour?" 

" If I do not bear in my hand the keys of the cits 
I bear nothing," he answered. 

There fell a long silence between them, and the g 



THE RTODLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 285 

hall was marvellously stilL The stranger drew very 
near to Countess Runa and stood by the arm of her 
high chair. 

'' Madam, farewell," he said. 

She looked up at him and murmured softly : " Fare- 
well" 

" Yet we shall meet again." 

" When ? " she asked, with lips just parted and eyes 
that strained to see his face. 

^* In a day's time, outside the ramparts." 

" Outside the ramparts ? " 

"Yes." He knelt before her and kissed her hand. 
" The citadel of the city is the heart of its mistress," 
he said. 

She rose suddenly to her feet and would have spoken, 
but he raised his hand to impose silence on her. With 
one long look he turned away and left her alone, stand- 
ing under the emblazoned window, through which one 
ray of moonlight caught her fair hair and illumined it 

She stood with clasped hands, her eyes still set on 
the door by which he had gone out. 

" My heart knows its lord," she whispered. " I have 
been speaking with my King." 



On the morrow, in the afternoon. King Stanislas, being 
returned from a journey on which affairs of State had 
called him, and having assumed again the command of 
his army, led it forth in battle array, and took up his 
position in the plain before the southern gate, not far 
from the ramparts of the city. 

" We are going to assault the ramparts again," said 
an old soldier to Friar Nicholas, who was there to see 
what passed and to exercise his sacred functions in case 
need arose. 

" Nay, I think the King is going to carry the citadel," 



286 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



answered the Friar, with a laugh. And all of ttcm 
laughed, thinking that he jested at the King's expense. 

As the clock struck four the King rode forth, mag- 
nilicently appointed, and bestriding a black war-horse 
of great strength and spirit When he was two hundred 
yards from the walls, he halted all his army and rode 
forward alone, save for the herald by his side. Coming 
close under the ramparts, which were thronged with 
Countess Runa's knights and men-at-arms, to say 
nothing of those who were ready to pour down stones 
and molten pitch and heavy bars of iron on the 
assaulters, he bade the herald cry that King Stanislas 
would speak with her Highness the Countess Runa. 

Much stir arose on the ramparts at this message, but 
the King sat calm and motionless on his great black 
horse. So passed half-an-hour or so. Then the dty 
gate rolled open, and Runa rode forth, in a robe of 
scarlet, seated on a white palfrey, and with all bcr 
knights and ladies round about her. 

"This is no assault on the ramparts," said the old 
soldier to Friar Nicholas, grumbling because there 
danger that he should be balked of a fight 

"I think you will soon pass them, though," said 
Nicholas. 

When the King saw Countess Runa he touched his 

) borse with the spur and rode up to her where she 

awaited his coming. When she saw him, her eyes 

brightened to a new brillance. Yet she showed no 

wonder. 

" My heart knew," she said, when her ladles 
knights marvelled. 

King Stanislas saluted her. 

" Whither, my King ? " she asked. 

He leant down, put his arm about her wail 
lifted her from her palfrey. A great shout went np' 
from the army in the plain and from the defenders on 
the walls. The King set her in front of him on 
great horse. 



THE RIDDLE OF COUNTESS RUNA 287 

" I carry the citadel," he said. " And now I will pass 
the ramparts"; and they two rode together into the 
city amidst mighty rejoicings. 



VI 

To which story there are a number of morals quite out 
of proportion to its size. 

This for Kings and Rulers : That they should state 
their objects openly — provided that they wish to have 
them known. 

This for Children : That what their fathers did for 
fifty years, it may be wise for them to cease from doing 
immediately— -especially if they wish to make good 
marriages. 

This for Men : That though it be impossible that a 
woman should mean what she says, yet she means 
something by what she says — at any rate, if she says it 
three times. 

This for Women : That though the ramparts protect 
the citadel, the citadel may often betray the ramparts. 

And this for Everybody: That he who devotes a 
good intelligence to enlightening others is like unto a 
man who cooks his neighbour's dinner without being 
invited to table. For when once the citadel was 
carried, the ramparts passed, and the lovers happy, 
neither King nor Countess nor anybody else gave 
another thought to poor Friar Nicholas I 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 



'yHE DUKE OF BELLEVILLE— which name, by 
-*- the way, you must pronounce by no means accord- 
ing to its spelling, if you would be in the fashion ; for 
as Belvoir is Beevor, and Beauchamp is Beecham, even 
so on polite lips Belleville is Bewle — the Duke of 
Belleville shut the hall door behind him, and put his 
latchkey into the pocket of his trousers. It was but 
ten in the evening, yet the house was as still as though 
it had been two in the morning. All was dark, save tor 
a dim jet of gas in the little sitting-room ; the blinds were 
all down ; from without the villa seemed uninhabited, 
and the rare passer-by — for rare was he in the quiet 
lane adjoining but not facing Hampstead Heath —set 
it down as being to let. It was a whim of the Duke's 
to keep it empty ; when the world bored him, he fled 
there for solitude ; not even the presence of a servant 
was allowed, lest his meditations should be disturbed. 
It was long since he had come ; but to-night weariness 
had afflicted him, and, by a sudden change of plan, he 
had made for his hiding-place in lieu of attending a 
Public Meeting, at which he had been advertised to 
take the chair. The desertion sat lightly on his con* 
science, and he heaved a sigh of relief, as, having turned 
up the gas, he flung himself into an arm-chair and lit 
a cigar. The Duke of Belleville was thirty years of 
age ; he was unmarried ; he had held the title since he 
was fifteen ; he seemed to himself rather old. He was 
at this moment yawning. Now when a man yawns at 
ten o'clock in the evening something is wrong with 
his digestion or his spirits. The Duke had a perfect 
digestion. 

388 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 289 

" I should define wealth/' murmured the Duke, be- 
tween his yawns, "as an unlimited command of the 
sources of ennuis rank as a satirical emphasising of 
human equality, culture as a curtailment of pleasures, 
knowledge as the death of interest" Yawning again, 
he rose, drew up the blind, and flung open the window. 
The summer night was fine and warm. Although 
there were a couple of dozen other houses scattered 
here and there about the lane, not a soul was to be 
seen. The Duke stood for a long while looking out 
His cigar burnt low and he flung it away. Presently 
he heard a church clock strike eleven. At the same 
moment he perceived a tall and burly figure approach- 
ing from the end of the lane. Its approach was slow 
and interrupted, for it paused at every house. A 
moment's further inspection revealed in it a policeman 
on his beat. 

** He's trying the windows and doors," remarked the 
Duke to himself Then his eyes brightened. " There 
are possibilities in a door always," he murmured, and 
his thoughts flew off to the g^eat doors of history and 
fiction — the doors that were locked when by all laws 
human and divine they should have been open, and the 
even more interesting doors that proved to be open and 
yielded to pressure when any man would have staked 
his life on their being bolted, barred, and impregnable. 
" A door has the interest of death," said he. " For how 
can you know what is on the other side till you have 
passed through it? Now suppose that fellow found 
a door open, and passed through it, and, turning the 
rays of his lantern on the darkness within, saw re- 
vealed to him — Heavens I " cried the Duke, interrupt- 
ing himself in great excitement, "is all this to be 
wasted on a policeman?" And without a moment's 
hesitation, he leant out of the window and shouted, 
"Constable, constable I" — which Is, as all the world 
knows, the politest mode of addressing a policeman. 

The policeman, perceiving the Duke and the ui^ency 



290 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

of the Duke's summons, left his examination of the 
doors in the lane and ran hastily up to the window of 
the villa. 

^ Did you call, sir ? " he asked. 

"Don't you know me?" inquired the Duke, turning 
a little, so that the light within the room should fall on 
his features. 

"I beg your Grace's pardon," cried the policeman. 
'' Your Grace gave me a sovereign last Christmas. The 
Duke of Belle- ville, isn't it, your Grace ? " 

" You will know," said the Duke patiently, '' how to 
pronounce my name when I tell you that it rhymes 
with 'Devil.' Thus: 'Dewle, Bewle.'" 

" Yes, your Grace. You called me ? " 

''I did. Do you often find doors open when they 
ought to be shut?" 

" Almost every night, your Grace." 

" What do you do ? " 

" Knock, your Grace." 

"Good heavens," murmured the Duke, "how this 
man throws away his opportunities!" Then he leant 
forward, and laying his hand on the policeman's shoulder 
drew him nearer, and began to speak to him in a low tone. 

" I couldn't, your Grace," urged the policeman. "If 
I was found out I should get the sack." 

" You should come to no harm by that" 

" And if your Grace was found out " 

"You can leave that to me," interrupted the Duke. 

Presently the policeman, acting on the Duke's invita- 
tion, climbed into the window of the villa, and the 
conversation was continued across the table. The 
Duke urged, produced money, gave his word to be 
responsible for the policeman's future ; the policeman's 
resistance grew less strong. 

" I am about your height and build," said the Duke. 
" It is but for a few hours, and you can spend them very 
comfortably in the kitchen. Before six o'clock I will 
be back." 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 291 

" If the Inspector comes round, your Grace ? " 
"You must take a little risk for twenty pounds," the 
Duke reminded him. 

The struggle could end but one way. A quarter of 
an hour later the policeman, attired in the Duke's over- 
coat, sat by the kitchen hearth, while the Duke, equipped 
in tiie policeman's garments, prepared to leave the 
house and take his place on the beat. 

" I shall put out all lights and shut the door," said 
he. "The window of this kitchen looks out to the 
back, and you will not be seen. You will particularly 
oblige me by remaining here and taking no notice 
of anything that may occur till I return and call 
you." 
" But, your Grace, if there's murder done ■ " 
" We can hardly expect that," interrupted the Duke, 
a little wistfully. Yet, although, remembering how the 
humdrum permeates life, he would not pitch his antici- 
pations too high, the Duke started on the expedition 
with great zest and lively hopes. The position he had 
assumed, the mere office that he discharged vicariously, 
seemed to his fancy a conductor that must catch and 
absorb the lightning of adventurous incident. His big- 
buttoned coat, his helmet, the lantern he carried, his 
deftly hidden truncheon, combined to make him the 
centre of anything that might move, and to involve him 
in coils of crime or of romance. He refused to be dis- 
appointed although he tried a dozen doors and found 
all securely fastened. For never till the last, till 
fortune was desperate and escape a vanished dream, 
was wont to come that marvellous Door that gaped 
open-mouthed. Ah! The Duke started violently, 
the blood rushing to his face and his heart beating 
quick. Here, at tiie end of the lane most remote from 
his own villa, at a small^ two-storeyed house bright with 
green paint and flowering creepers, here, in the most 
unlikely, most inevitable place, was the open door. 
Barred ? It was not even shut, but hung loose, sway- 



292 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

ing gently to and fro, with a subdued bang at each 
encounter with the doorpost Without a moment's 
hesitation the Duke pushed it open. He stood in a 
dark passage. He turned the glare of his bull's-eye on 
the gloom, which melted as the column of light pierced 
it, and he saw — 

" There is nothing at all," said the Duke of Belleville 
with a sigh. 

Nor, indeed, was there, save an umbrella-rack, a 
hatstand, and an engraving of the Queen's Coronation 
— things which had no importance for the Duke. 

" They are only what one might expect," said he. 

Yet he persevered and began to mount the stairs 
with a silent cautious tread. He had not felt it neces- 
sary to put on the policeman's boots, and his thin-soled 
well-made boots neither creaked nor crunched as he 
climbed, resting one hand on the balustrade and hold- 
ing his lantern in the other. Yet suddenly something 
touched his hand, and a bell rang out, loud, clear and 
tinkling. A moment later came a scream ; the Duke 
paused in some bewilderment Then he mounted a 
few more steps till he was on the landing. A door to 
his right was cautiously opened ; an old gentleman's 
head appeared. 

" Thank heaven, it's the police I " cried the old gentle- 
man. Then he pulled his head in and said, "Only the 
police, my dear." Then he put his head out again and 
asked, " What in the world is the matter ? I thought 
you were burglars when I heard the alarm." 

** Your hall door was standing open," said the Duke 
accusingly. 

" Tut, tut, tut ! How very careless of me, to be sure I 
And I thought I locked it I Actually open! Dear 
me! I'm much obliged to you." 

A look of disappointment had by now spread over 
the Duke's face. 

"Didn't you leave it open on purpose?" he asked. 
" Come now ! You can trust me." 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 293 

" On purpose ? Do you take me for a fool ? " cried 
the old gentleman. 

" A man who leaves his door open on purpose may 
or may not be a fool/' said the Duke. " But there is no 
doubt about a man who leaves it open without a pur- 
pose/' and, so saying, the Duke turned, walked down- 
stairs, and, going out, slammed the door behind him. 
He was deeply disgusted. 

When, however, he had recovered a little from his 
chagrin, he began to pace up and down the lane. It 
was now past midnight, and all was very quiet The 
Duke began to fear that Fortune, never weary of 
tormenting him, meant to deny all its interest to his 
experiment But suddenly, when he was exactly 
opposite his own house, he observed a young man 
standing in front of it The stranger was tall and well 
made ; he wore a black cloth Inverness, which, hanging 
open at the throat, showed a white tie and a snowy shirt 
front The young man seemed to be gazing thought- 
fully at the Duke's villa. The Duke walked quietly up 
to him, as though he meant to pass by. The young man, 
however, perceiving him, turned to him and said : 

" It's very annoying, but I have lost my latchkey, and 
I don't know how to get into my house." 

** Indeed, sir ? " said the Duke sympathetically. 
"Which is your house?" 

"This," answered the young man, pointing to the 
Duke's villa. 

The Duke could not entirely repress a slight move- 
ment of surprise and pleasure. 

" This your house ? Then you are ? " he began. 

"Yes, yes, the Duke of Belleville/' interrupted the 
young man. "But there's nobody in the house. I'm 
not -expected— —" 

" I suppose not," murmured the Duke. 

" There are no servants, and I don't know how to get 
in. It's very awkward, because I'm expecting a — a 
friend to call." 




TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"With my assistance," said the Duke deferentially! 
" your Grace might effect an entry by the window." 

" True ! " cried the young man. " Bring your lantern 
and give me a light. Look here, I don't want thi( 
talked about." 

" It is a matter quite between ourselves, your Grace,* 
the Duke assured him, as he led the way to the window. 

" By-the-by, you might help me in another matter if 
you like. I'll make it worth your while." 

" I shall be very glad," said the Duke. 

" Could you be spared from your beat for an hour?" 

" It might be possible." 

" Good. Come in with me, and we'll talk it over." 

The Duke had by this time opened the window o{ 
his villa ; he gave the young man a leg-up, and after> 
wards climbed in himself, 

" Shut the window again," commanded the stranger 
" Oh, and you might as well just close the shutters," 

" Certainly, your Grace," said the Duke, and he did as 
he was bid. 

The young man began to move round the room, 
examining the articles that furnished the side-tables 
and decorated the walls. The Duke of Belleville had 
been for a year or two an eager collector of antique 
plate, and had acquired some fine specimens in both 
gold and silver. Some of these were now in the villa, 
and the young man scrutinised them with close 
attention. 

"Dear me," said he in a vexed tone, as he returned 
to the hearth, " I thought the Queen Bess flagon was 
here. Surely I sent it here from Belleville Castle!" 

The Duke smiled; the Queen Bess flagon had never 
been at Belleville Castle, and it was now in a small 
locked cabinet which stood on the mantelpiece. He 
made no remark ; a suspicion had begun to take sha[>e 
in his mind concerning this strange visitor. Two 
thousand seven hundred and forty guineas was the 
price that he had paid for the Queen Bess flagon ; ^^~ 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 295 

the other specimens in the little room, taken together, 
might be worth perhaps a quarter as much. 

** Your Grace spoke of some other matter in which I 
might assist you?" he suggested, for the young man 
seemed to have fallen into a reverie. 

" Why, yes. As I tell you, I expect a friend ; and it 
looks very absurd to have no servant. You're sure to 
find a suit of dress clothes in my bedroom. Pray put 
them on and represent my valet. You can resume your 
uniform afterwards." 

The Duke bowed and left the room. The moment 
the door closed behind him he made the best of his way 
to the kitchen. A few words were enough to impart his 
suspicions to the policeman. A daring and ingenious 
scheme was evidently on foot, its object being the theft 
of the Queen Bess flagon. Even now, unless they acted 
quickly, the young man might lay hands on the cabinet 
in which the treasure lay and be off with it. In a trice 
the Duke had discarded the police uniform, its rightful 
owner had resumed it, and the Duke was again in the 
convenient black suit which befits any man, be he duke 
or valet. Then the kitchen window was cautiously 
opened, and the policeman crawled silently round to 
the front of the house ; here he lay in waiting for a 
summons or for the appearance of a visitor. The Duke 
returned immediately to the sitting-room. 

On entering, he perceived the young man standing in 
front of the locked cabinet, and regarding it with a 
melancholy air. The Duke's appearance roused him^ 
and he glanced with visible surprise at the distinguished 
and aristocratic figure which the supposed policeman 
presented. But he made no comment and his first 
words were about the flagon. 

" Now I come to rememter," said he, " I put the Queen 
Bess flagon in this cabinet. It must be so, although, as 
I have left my key at my rooms in St James's Street, I 
can't satisfy myself on the point" 

The Duke, now perfectly convinced of the character 



296 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

of his visitor, waited only to see him lay his hands on 
the cabinet Such an action would be the si|^al for his 
instant arrest But before the young man had time 
either to speak again or to put out his hand towards 
the cabinet, there came the sound of wheels quickly 
approaching the villa. A moment later a neat brougham 
rolled up to the door. The young man darted to the 
window, tore open the shutters, and looked out The 
Duke, suspecting the arrival of confederates, turned 
towards the cabinet and took his stand in front of it 

"Go and open the door," ordered the young man, 
turning round. " Don't keep the lady waiting outside 
at this time of night" 

Curiosity conquered prudence; the Duke set more 
value on a night's amusement than on the Queen Bess 
flagon. He went obediently and opened the door of the 
villa. On the step stood a young and very handsome 
girl. Great agitation was evident in her manner. 

" Is — is the Duke here ? " she asked. 

"Yes, madam. If I lead you to the sitting-room, 
you will find him there," answered the Duke gravely ; 
and with a bow he preceded her along the passage. 

When they reached the room, the lady, passing by 
him, darted forward and flung herself affectionately into 
the young man's arms. He greeted her with equal 
warmth, while the Duke stood in the doorway in some 
natural embarrassment 

" I escaped so successfully I " cried the lady. " My 
aunt went to bed at eleven ; so did I. At twelve I got 
up and dressed. Not a soul heard me come downstairs, 
and the brougham was waiting at the door just as you 
said." 

"My darling!" murmured the young man fondly. 
" Now, indeed, is our happiness certain. By to-morrow 
morning we shall be safe from all pursuit" Then he 
turned to the Duke. " I need not tell you," said he, 
" that you must observe silence on this matter. Oblige 
me now by going to my room and packing a bag ; you'll 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 297 

know what I shall want for two or three days ; I can 
give you a quarter of an hour." 

The Duke stood in momentary hesitation. He was 
bewildered at the sudden change in the position caused 
by the appearance of this girl. Was he assisting, then, 
not at a refined and ingenious burglary, but at another 
kind of trick? The disg^uise assumed by the young 
man might have for its object the deception of a trustful 
girl, and not an abduction of the Queen Bess flagon. 

" Well, why don't you obey ? " asked the young man 
sharply ; and, stepping up to the Duke, he thrust a ten- 
pound note into his hand, whispering, *' Play your part, 
and earn your money, you fool." 

The Duke lingered no longer. Leaving the room, he 
walked straight, rapidly, and with a firm tread, upstairs. 
When he reached the top he paused to listen. All was 
still I Stay ! A moment later he heard a slight noise — 
the noise of some metal instrument turning, proceeding 
from the room which he had just left The Duke sat 
down on the landing and took off his boots. Then with 
silent feet he crept cautiously downstairs again. He 
paused to listen for an instant outside the sitting-room 
door. Voices were audible, but he could not hear the 
words. The occupants of the room were moving about 
He heard a low amused laugh. Then he pursued his 
way to the hall door. He had not completely closed it 
after admitting the lady, and he now slipped out without 
a sound. The brougham stood in front of the door. The 
Duke dodged behind it, and the driver, who was leaning 
forward on his seat, did not see him. The next moment 
he was crouching down by the side of his friend the 
policeman, waiting for the next development in the 
plot of this comedy, or crime, or whatever it might turn 
out to be. He put out his hand and touched his ally. 
To his amusement the man, sitting there on the ground, 
had fallen fast asleep. 

" Another proof," mused the Duke in whimsical de- 
spair, " that it is impossible to make any mode of life 



298 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

permanently interesting. How this fdlow would desfMse 
the state of excitement which I, for the fnoment, am 90 
fortunate as to enjoy f Well, I won't wake him unless 
need arises." 

For some little while nothing happened. The police- 
man slept on, and the driver of the brougham seemed 
sunk in meditation, unless, indeed, he also were drowsy. 
The shutters of the sitting-room were again closely shut, 
and no sound came from behind them. The Duke 
crouched motionless but keenly observant 

Then the hall door creaked. The policeman snored 
quietly, but the Duke leant eagerly forward, and the 
driver of the brougham suddenly sat up quite straight, 
and grasped his reins more firmly. The door was 
cautiously opened : the lady and the young man ap- 
peared on the threshold. The young man glanced up 
and down the lane ; then he walked quickly towards 
the brougham, and opened the door. The lady followed 
him. As she went she passed within four or five feet of 
where the Duke lay hidden. And, as she went by, the 
Duke saw — what he half-expected, yet what he could 
but half-believe — the gleam of the gold of the Queen 
Bess flagon, which she held in her gloved hands. 

As has been hinted, the Duke attached no supersti- 
tious value to this article. The mad fever of the 
collector had left him long ago ; but amidst the death 
of other emotions and more recondite prejudices there 
survives in the heart of man the primitive dislike of 
being "done." It survived in the mind of the Duke of 
Belleville, and sprang to strong and sudden activity 
when he observed his Queen Bess flagon in the hands of 
the pretty unknown lady. 

With a sudden and vigorous spring he was upon her ; 
with a roughness which the Duke trusted that the 
occasion to some extent excused, he seized her arm 
with one hand, and with the other violently twisted the 
Queen Bess flagon out of her grasp. A loud cry rang 
from her lips. The driver threw down the reins and 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 299 

leapt from his seat The young man turned with an 
oath and made for the Duke. The Duke of Belleville, 
ignoring the mere prejudice which forbids timely re- 
treat, took to his heels, hugging the Queen Bess flagon 
to his breast, and heading, in his silk socks, as hard and 
as straight as he could for Hampstead Heath. After 
him pell-mell came the young man, the driver, and the 
lady, amazed, doubtless, at the turn of events, but 
resolved on the recapture of the flagon. And just as 
their figures vanished round the comer, the policeman 
rubbed his eyes and looked round, exclaiming, " What's 
the row ? " 

In after days the Duke of Belleville was accustomed 
to count his feelings as he fled barefooted (for what 
protection could silk socks afford ?) across Hampstead 
Heath, with three incensed pursuers on his track, among 
the keenest sensations of his life. The exhilaration of 
the night air and the chances of the situation in which 
he found himself combined to produce in him a remark- 
able elation of spirits. He laughed as he ran, till 
shortening breath warned him against such extravagant 
wasting of his resources; then he settled down to a 
steady run, heading across the Heath, up and down, 
over dip and hillock. Yet he did not distance the pack. 
He heard them close behind him ; a glance round 
showed him that the lady was well up with her friends, 
in spite of the impediment of her skirts. The Duke 
began to pant ; his feet had grown sore and painful ; 
he looked round for a refuge. To his delight he per- 
ceived, about a hundred yards to his right, a small and 
picturesque red-brick house. It was now between one 
and two o'clock, but he did not hesitate. Resolving to 
appeal to the hospitality of this house, hoping, it may 
be, again to find a door left open, he turned sharp to 
the right, and with a last spurt made for his haven. 

Fate seemed indeed kind to him ; the door was not 
only unbarred, it stood ajar. The Duke's pursuers 
were even now upon him ; they were no more than five 



■1 



300 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

or six yards behind when he reached the little red^tUed 
porch and put out his hand to push the door back. 

But at the same instant the door was pulled open, 
and a burly man appeared on the threshold. He wore a 
frock coat embellished with black braid and a peaked 
cap. The Duke at once recognised in him an inspector 
of police. Evidently he was, when surprised by the 
Duke's arrival, about to sally out on his round. The 
Duke stopped and, between his pants, made shift to 
address the welcome ally; but before he could get a 
word out the young man was upon him. 

" Inspector," said the young man in the most com- 
posed manner, " I give this fellow in charge for stealing 
my property." 

'' I saw him take the tankard," observed the driver, 
pointing towards the Queen Bess flagon. 

The lady said nothing but stood by the young man, 
as though ready with her testimony in case it were 
needed. 

The Inspector turned curious eyes on the Duke of 
Belleville ; then he addressed the young man respect- 
fully. 

" May I ask, sir, who you are ? " 

" I am the Duke of Belleville," answered the young 
man. 

"The Duke of Belle-villel" cried the Inspector, his 
manner showing an increased deference. " I b^ your 
Grace's " 

"The name," said the Duke, "is pronounced Bev- 
vle — to rhyme with devil." 

The Inspector looked at him scornfully. 

" Your turn will come, my man," said he, and, turning 
again to the young man, he continued : " Do you 
charge him with stealing this cup?" 

" Certainly I do." 

" Do you know who he is ? " 

" I imagine you do," said the young man, with a 
laugh. " He's one of your own policeman." 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 301 

The Inspector stepped back and turned up the 
gas in his passage. Then he scrutinised the Duke's 
features. 

" One of my men ? " he cried. " Your Grace is mis- 
taken. I have never seen the man." 

" Yes, yes," cried the young man, and, in his eager- 
ness to convince the Inspector, he stepped forward, 
until his face fell within the range of the passage light. 
As this happened, the Inspector gave a loud cry. 

" Hallo, Joe Simpson ! " And he sprang at the young 
man. The latter did not wait for him : without a word 
he turned ; the Inspector rushed forward, the young man 
made for the Heath, and the driver, after standing for a 
moment apparently bewildered, faced about, and made 
oflf in the opposite direction to that chosen by his com- 
panion. The three were thirty yards away before the 
Duke of Belleville could realise what had happened. 
Then he perceived that he stood in the passage of the 
Inspector's house, alone save for the presence of the 
young lady, who faced him with an astonished expres- 
sion on her pretty countenance. 

"It is altogether a very remarkable night," observed 
the Duke. 

*'It is impossible that you should be more puzzled 
than I am," said the young lady. 

" Excuse me," said the Duke, ** but you run Very well." 

'' I belonged to my college football club," said the 
young lady modestly. 

" Precisely ! " cried the Duke. " I suppose this door 
leads to our good friend's parlour. Shall we sit down 
while you tell me all about it? I must ask you to 
excuse the condition of my feet." 

Thus speaking, the Duke led the way into the 
Inspector's parlour. Placing the Queen Bess flagon 
on the table, he invited the lady to be seated, and took 
a chair himself. Perceiving that she was somewhat 
agitated, he provided her with an interval in which to 
regain her composure by narrating to her the adven- 



302 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

tures of the evening. She heard him with gmuine 
astonishment 

" Do you say that you are the Duke of Belleville ? " 
she cried. 

" Don't I look like it ? " asked the Duke, smiling, but 
at the same time concealing his feet under the Inspector's 
dining-table. 

" But he — ^he said he was the Duke." 

"He said so to me also," observed the Duke of 
BeUeville. 

The lady looked at him long and keenly; there 
was, however, a simple honesty about the Diike's 
manner that attracted her sympathy and engaged her 
confidence. 

" Perhaps Td better tell you all about it," said she, 
with a sigh. 

"Not unless you desire to do so, I beg," said the 
Duke, with a wave of his hand. 

" I am nineteen," began the lady. The Duke heaved 
an envious sigh. " I live with my aunt," she continued. 
"We live a very retired life. Since 1 left college — 
which I did prematurely owing to a difference of 
opinion with the Principal — I have seen hardly any- 
one. In the course of a visit to the seaside I met the 
gentleman who — who " 

"From whom we have just parted?" suggested the 
Duke. 

" Thank you, yes. Not to weary you with details " 

"Principles weary me, but not details," interposed 
the Duke. 

" In fact," continued the young lady, " he professed 
to be in love with me. Now my aunt, although not 
insensible to the great position which he offered me 
(for of course he represented himself as the Duke of 
Belleville) entertains the opinion that no girl should 
marry till she is twenty-one. Moreover she considered 
that the acquaintance was rather short." 

" May I ask when you first met the gentleman ? " 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 303 

'' Last Monday week. So she forbade the marriage. 
I am myself of an impatient disposition." 

'' So am I" observed the Duke of Belleville, and in 
the interest of the discussion he became so forgetful as 
to withdraw his feet from the shelter of the table and 
cross one 1^ comfortably over the other. "So am I," 
he repeated, nodding his head. 

" I therefore determined to live my own life in my 
own way " 

" I think you said you had been to college ? " 

" Yes, but 1 had a difference of " 

*' Quite so. Pray proceed," said the Duke courteously. 

" And to run away with my fianci. In pursuance of 
this plan, I arranged to meet him to-night at his villa 
at Hampstead. jfie sent a brougham to fetch me, I 
made my escape successfully, and the rest you know." 

" Pardon me, but up to this point the part played by 
the flagon which you see on the table before you is 
somewhat obscure." 

" Oh, when you'd gone to pack his things, he took out 
a curious little instrument — he said he had forgotten 
his key — and opened the cabinet on the mantelpiece. 
Then he took out that pretty mug and gave it to me as 
my wedding present He told me that it was vtxy 
valuable, and he would carry it for me himself, but I 
declared that I must carry it for myself or I wouldn't 
go. So he let me. And then you " 

"The whole thing is perfectly plain," declared the 
Duke with emphasis. "You, madam, have been the 
victim of a most dastardly and cold-blooded plot This 
fellow is a swindler. I daresay he wanted to get hold 
of you, and thus extort money from your aunt, but his 
main object was no other than to carry off the famous 
cup which you see before you — the Queen Bess flagon." 
And the Duke, rising to his feet, began to walk up and 
down in great indignation. "He meant to kill two 
birds with one stone 1 " said he, in mingled anger and 
admiration. 



304 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



"It is pretty," said the young lady, taking up the 
flagon. " Oh, what is this figure ? " 

The Duke, perceiving that the lady desired an ex- 
planation, came and leant over her chair. She turned 
her face up to his in innocent eagerness ; the Duke 
could not avoid observing that she had very fine eyes. 
Without making any comment on the subject, hofrever, 
he leant a little lower and began to explain the signifi- 
cance of the figure on the Queen Bess flagon. 
The Duke has been known to say that, in a world so 
[ much the sport of chance as ours, there was no reasoa 
! why he should not have fallen in love with the younf 
lady and offered to make her in very truth what 
she had dreamed of becoming — the Duchess of 
Believille. 

Her eyes were very fine, her manner frank and 
engaging. Moreover, the Duke hated to see people 
disappointed. Thus the thing might just as well haw 
happened as not. And on so narrow a point did the issue 
stand that to this day certain persons declare that it— 
or part of it — did happen ; for why, and on what account, 
they ask, should an experienced connoisseur (and such 
undoubtedly was the Duke of Belleville) present a young 
lady previously unknown to him (or, for the matter of 
that, any young lady at all, whether known or not 
known to him) with such a rare, costly, and precioui 
thing as the Queen Bess flagon? For the fact is — let 
the meaning and significance of the fact be what they 
will — that when the young lady, gazing fondly the while 
on the flagon, exclaimed, " 1 never realty cared about 
him much, but I should have liked the beautiful flagon!" 
the Duke answered (he was still leaning over her chair, 
in order the better to explain and trace the figure 00 the 
flagon) ; 

"Of him you are well rid. But permit me to request 
your acceptance of the flagon. The real Duke of BeUe-j 
ville, madam, must not be outdone by his c 
"Really?" cried the young lady. 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 305 

" Of course," murmured the Duke, delighted with the 
pleasure which he saw in her eyes. 

The young lady turned a most grateful and almost 
affectionate glance on the Duke. Although ignorant of 
the true value of the Queen Bess flagon, she was aware 
that the Duke had made her a very handsome present 

" Thank you," said she^ putting her hands into the 
Duke's. 

At this moment a loud and somewhat strident voice 
proceeded from the door of the room. 

" Well, I never ! And how did you come here ? " 

The Duke, looking round, perceived a stout woman, 
clad in a black petticoat and a woollen shawl ; her arms 
were akimbo. 

''We came in, madam/' said he, rising and bowing, 
'' by the hall door, which we chanced to find open." 

The stout woman appeared to be at a loss for words. 
At length, however, she gasped out : 

" Be off with you. Don't let the Inspector catch you 
here ! " 

The Duke looked doubtfully at the young lady. 

"The woman probably misunderstands," he mur- 
mured. The young lady blushed slightly. The In- 
spector's wife advanced with a threatening demeanour. 

** Who are you ? " she asked abruptly. 

" I, madam," began the Duke, " am the " 

'' I don't see that it matters who we are," interposed 
the young lady. 

" Possibly not," admitted the Duke, with a smile. 

The young lady rose, went to a little mirror that hung 
on the wall, and adjusted the curls which appeared from 
under the brim of her hat 

'' Dear me," said she, turning round with a sigh, " it 
must be nearly three o'clock, and my aunt always likes 
me to be in before daybreak." 

The stout woman gasped again. 

"Because of the neighbours, you know," said the 
young lady with a smile. 

u 



3o6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

"Just so," assented the Duke, and possibly he would 
have added more, had not the woman uttered an in- 
articulate cry and pointed to his feet 

"Really, madam," remarked the Duke, with some 
warmth, '' it would have been in better taste not to refer 
to the matter." And with a severe frown he offered his 
arm to the young lady. They then proceeded towards 
the doorway. The Inspector's wife barred the passage. 
The Duke assumed a most dignified air. The woman 
reluctantly gave away. Walking through the passage, 
the young lady and the Duke found themselves again 
in the open air. There were signs of approaching 
dawn. 

"I really think I had better get home," whispered 
the young lady. 

At this moment — and the Duke was not in the least 
surprised — they perceived four persons approaching 
them. The Inspector walked with his arm through the 
arm of the young man who had claimed to be the Duke 
of Belleville ; following, arm-in-arm with the driver of 
the brougham, came the policeman whose uniform the 
Duke had borrowed. All the party except the In- 
spector looked uneasy. The Inspector appeared some- 
what puzzled. However, he greeted the Duke with a 
cry of welcome. 

" Now we can find out the truth of it all ! " he ex- 
claimed. 

" To find out truth," remarked the Duke, " is never 
easy and not always desirable." 

" I understand that you are the Duke of Belleville ? " 
asked the Inspector. 

" Certainly," said the Duke. 

" Bosh I " said the young man. " Oh, you know me, 
Inspector Collins, and I know you, and I'm not going 
to try and play it on you any more. But this chap's no 
more the Duke than I am, and I should have thought 
you might have known one of your own policemen f " 

The Inspector turned upon him fiercely. 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 307 

"None of your gab, Joe Simpson," said he. Then 
turning to the Duke, he continued, " Do you charge the 
young woman with him, your Grace ? " And he pointed 
significantly to the Queen Bess flagon, which the young 
lady carrried in an affectionate grasp. 

" This lady," said the Duke, " has done me the honour 
of accepting a small token of my esteem. As for these 
men, I know nothing about them." And he directed a 
sigpiificant glance at the young man. The young man 
answered his look. The policeman seemed to grow 
more easy in his mind. " Then you don't charge any 
of them ? " cried the Inspector, bewildered. 

"Why, no," answered the Duke. "And I suppose 
they none of them charge me ? " 

Nobody spoke. The Inspector took out a large red 
handkerchief and mopped his brow. 

"Well, it beats me," he said. "I know pretty well 
what these two men are ; but if your Grace don't charge 
'em, what can I do ? " 

" Nothing, I should suppose," said the Duke blandly. 
And, with a slight bow, he proceeded on his way, the 
young lady accompanying him. Looking back once, 
he perceived the young man and the driver of the 
brougham going off in another direction with quick 
furtive steps, while the Inspector and the policeman 
stood talking together outside the door of the house. 

"The circumstances, as a whole, no doubt appear 
peculiar to the Inspector," observed the Duke, with a 
smile. 

"Do you think that we can find a hansom cab?" 
asked the young lady a little anxiously. " You see, my 
aunt " 

"Precisely," said the Duke, and he quickened his pace. 

They soon reached the boundary of the Heath, and, 
having walked a little way along the road, were so 
fortunate as to find a cab. The young lady held out 
her left hand to the Duke : in her right she still grasped 
firmly the Queen Bess flagon. 



3o8 



TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 



" Good-bye," she said. " Thank you for die beautiful 
It" 

: Duke took her hand and allowed his glance to 
rest for a fnoment on her face. She appeared to see a 
question in his eyes. 

" Yes, and for rescuing me from that man," she added 
with a little shudder. 

The Duke's glance still rested on her face. 

" Yes, and for lots of fun," she whispered with ablush. 

The Duke looked away, sighed, released her ham!, 
helped her into the cab, and retired to a distance of 
some yards. The young lady spoke a few words to tbe 
cabman, took her seat, waved a small hand, held up the 
Queen Bess flagon, kissed it, and drove away. 

" If," observed the Duke with a sigh, " I were nota 
well-bred man, i should have asked her name," and he 
made his way back to his house in a somewhat peasin 
mood. 

On reaching home, however, he perceived tbe 
brougham standing before his door, A new direction 
was thus given to his meditations. He opened tbe gate 
of his stable-yard, and, taking the horse's head, Jed it in. 
Having unharnessed it, he put it in the stable and fed 
and watered it ; the brougham he drew into the coodi- 
house. Then he went indoors, partook of some brandy 
mixed with water, and went to bed. 

At eleven o'clock the next morning Frank, the Dtifcc's 
man, came up to Hampstead to attend to his Grace's 
wants, The Duke was still in bed, but, on breakfast 
being ready, he rose and came downstairs in hts 
drc.«ing-gown and a pair of large and very easy slippers. 

" I hope your Grace slept well?" said Frank. 

" 1 never passed a better night, thank you, Frank," 
said the Duke as he chipped the top otThis egg. 

" Haif-an-hour ago, your Grace," Frank continued, 
"a man called." 

"To see me?" 

" It was about — about a brougham, your Gra 



THE LADY AND THE FLAGON 309 

" Ah ! What did you say to him ? " 

" I said I had no orders about a brougham from your 
Grace." 

" Quite right, Frank, quite right," said the Duke with 
a smile. " What did he say to that ? " 

" He appeared to be put out, but said that he would 
call again, your Grace." 

"Very good," said the Duke, rising and lighting a 
cigarette. 
Frank lingered uneasily near the door. 

"Is anything the matter, Frank?" asked the Duke 
kindly. 

" Well, your Grace, in — in point of fact, there is — 
there is a strange brougham and a strange horse in the 
stables, your Grace." 

"In what respect," asked the Duke, " are the brougham 
and the horse strange, Frank ? " 

"I — I should say, your Grace, a brougham and a 
horse that I have not seen before in your Grace's 
stables." 

" That is a very diflferent thing, Frank," observed the 
Duke with a patient smile. " I suppose that I am at 
liberty to acquire a brougham and a horse if it occurs 
to me to do so ? " 

" Of course, your Grace," stammered Frank. 

" I will drive into town in that brougham to-day, 
Frank," said the Duke. 

Frank bowed and withdrew. The Duke strolled to 
the window and stood looking out as he smoked his 
cigarette. 

"I don't think the man will call again," said he. 
Then he drew from his pocket the ten-pound note that 
the young man had given him, and regarded it thought- 
fully. " A brougham, a horse, ten pounds, and a very 
diverting experience," he mused. " Yes, I am in better 
spirits this morning I " 

As for the Queen Bess flagon, he appeared to have 
forgotten all about it 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 

I 

THE Duke of Belleville (nothing annoyed his Grace 
more than to hear his name mispronounced— 
it should sound <<Bewle") was tired of it alL That 
succincdy expresses his condition; and the conditioQ 
is really not to be wondered at after fifteen years of 
an existence such as his, although it is true that he 
had occasionally met with some agreeable and even 
some unexpected adventures. He wanted a new sen- 
sation, a new experience, a new environment, although 
it was possible that he would not want any of them for 
very long. He consulted his man Frank on the matter 
one evening at dinner. 

** When I felt like that as a lad, your Grace," Frank 
remarked, " my father used to put me to digging." 

'' Excellent, Frank I Buy me a labourer's allotment 
to-morrow morning." 

" Very good, your Grace," said Frank. 

He was an invaluable servant, although at times, the 
Duke would complain, lacking in imagination. 

" Have you got it, Frank ? " said the Duke the next 
morning at lunch. 

"Yes, your Grace. And I thought it well also to 
obtain a cottage." 

" Very thoughtful I Clothes ? " 

" I thought that perhaps your Grace would prefer to 
give your personal " 

" Quite right, Frank. Til go to Clarkson's to-morrow." 

"I beg your Grace's pardon — am I to accompany 

your Grace ? " 
" I do not propose to dig all night, nor even after 

jio 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 



3" 



|inset. Men on allotments eat, I acn given to sup- 
Be!" 

" I beg your Grace's pardon." 

"Never mind, Frank. In the evening we shall be as 
Give the necessary orders. Neither you nor the 
K/^wiil, of course, be visible." 

I "Very good, your Grace." Frank placed the coffee 
Bd old brandy on the table, and withdrew. 
I The next morning the Duke repaired to Wardour 
' reel and mentioned something about private theatri- 
llls. The suave and accomplished proprietor was 

rtite in suggestion. 

" I mustn't look too new or clean," the Duke stipu- 
lated. The hint was sufficient ; he was equipped with 
an entirely realistic costume. 

" Duplicate it, please," said the Duke as he re-entered 
his brougham. "It was careless of me to forget that 
it might rain." 

The Duke and Frank left King's Cross the same 
evening (the chef had preceded them with the luggage ; 
he made no stipulation about kitchen or scullery maids 
— everybody was always anxious to oblige his Grace) 
under cover of night. A journey of some forty miles 
brought them to their destination. On the outskirts 
of the little town lay the allotments. They were twelve 
in number, each comprising half-an-acre of land. Three 
cottages stood facing the allotments with their backs to 
the highroad. One of these now appertained to the Duke. 
Thei^A^had done wonders ; all was clean and comfort- 
able — though thefumiture was, of course, very plain. The 
dinner was excellent. A new spade, a new hoe, a new 
rake, and a new wheelbarrow stood just within the door. 

" Get up early and rub them over with dirt, Frank," 
said the Duke as he retired, well pleased, to rest. 

The next morning also he breakfasted with ex- 
cellent appetite. 

" I beg >'our Grace's pardon," said Frank, " but your 
Grace will not forget to be out of work ? " 



312 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

*' I came here to be in work, Prank." 

" The men work on their allotments only in their 
spare time, your Grace." 

" I see, I see. Thank you, Frank. I will certainly 
be out of work, if occasion arises to define precisely 
my economic position. I trust, however, that this is 
not an inquisitive neighbourhood." 

It was not, as a rule. But just now there were spec- 
ial circumstances, unknown to Frank — and to the Duke 

He b^an to dig at 9.30 A.M. His allotment had 
been a good deal neglected, and the ground happened 
to be hard. Presently he found himself afflicted with 
acute sensations in the back. He begun to wonder 
what men on allotments did when they felt tired. 
A thought struck him — a reminiscence of his wide 
and curious reading. Observing a small girl seated 
on the railing which bordered the allotments he ap« 
proached her. "Child," said he kindly, "be good 
enough to go to the nearest public-house and fetch 
me a pint of four-'alf." 

" W'ere's your money ? " said the child. 

The Duke had been too realistic ; there was no 
money in his pocket. He returned to his labours (he 
had promised himself to be independent of Frank for 
at least three hours) with a sigh. The little girl laughed 
scornfully, and then performed a somersault The 
Duke was not quite pleased. 

By twelve o'clock his back was very bad and his 
hands blistered. His corduroy trousers were cutting 
him at the back of the knees. Also it had begun to 
rain. "I have the sensation vividly enough for the 
moment. I will return to the cottage and have lunch," 
he said to himself, throwing down his spade. He had 
turned up a considerable amount of earth, and had 
found some vegetables amongst it. He was not very 
clear what they were. He picked up his coat, put it 
on, and began instinctively to feel for a cigarette No 
case was to be found. 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 



3>3 



stei 



" Oh, d — n that Frank ! " said the Duke mechani- 
lly. 

' Need you swear?" asked a voice suddenly. 
" Who wouldn't ? " mumbled the Duke, who was just 
iping his brow (which was like that of the blacksmith 
the poem) with a large and fearfully rough pocket- 
id kerchief. 
What ? " 

The voice was very sharp. It recalled to the Duke 

necessities of his situation. Emerging from behind 

handkerchief, he found himself in the presence of 

h&M stout lady of imperious demeanour. She wore a 

' ;irt, consequentially ample, of shiny black, and a black 

:lvet mantle embellished with beads, apparently jet. 

The Duke's instinct rarely failed him — that was what 

luld have made him such a great man of affairs. 

'he parson's wife!" he thought to himself, without 

moment's hesitation. Then he cast about for his 

'isest course of action. 

" Why aren't you at work ? " the lady demanded 
sternly. 

The Duke had worked extraordinarily hard for three 
He was indignant. But he was wary. He 
is considering what accent to adopt. It struck him 
lat he would try the Somersetshire ; he had heard 
'that at the theatres ; the rural (but honest) father of 
the erring (but sweet) heroine usually employed it Of 
course, if the parson's wife happened to come from 

Somerset Well, some risks must be taken. 

" I do be of a-workin'," said the Duke. " Lasteways, 
I do be of a just 'avin' done it." He clung to his "be " 
with no small confidence. 

■* Where do you come from ? " 
" Zummer-aett," said he. 

"You talk in a funny way. When did you come 
here?" 

The Duke felt sure that he ought not to say " Last 
night " ; accordingly he replied " Yuster-e'en." 



JI4 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

The lady looked suspicious. "You're seddng em- 
ployment ? " 

Suddenly — and opportunely — the Duke remembered 
Frank's warning : he was to be out of work. 

'* Yus, I be," he said, wonderii^; if his fBucc were dirty 
enough. 

'* Church or Chapel ? " she asked sharply. 

"Charch," answered the Duke. And by a happy 
thought he added, '' Ma'am." 

" Whaf s your name ? " With the question she pro- 
duced a little note-book and a pencil 

" Be w "■ " he began thoughtlessly. He stopped. 
A barren invention, and a mind acute to the danger of 
hesitation, combined to land him in '* Dewle." 

" Devil ? That's a very odd name." 

'' My feyther's name afore me," affirmed the Duke, 
who felt that he was playing his part rather well, though 
he regretted that a different initial consonant had not 
occurred to him. 

The lady surveyed him with a long and distrustful 
glance. 

" Have you had any beer tAis morning ? " she asked. 

The Duke never took beer— not even in the evening. 
" None," he replied with a touch of indignation. 

"I wish I was sure of that!" she remarked. The 
Duke, himself regretfully sure (for the digging had 
changed his feelings towards beer), wondered at her 
suspicious disposition. ** Well, we shall see. You're 
in my daughter's district. She will come and see 
you." 

" Vurry g^ood, ma'am," said the Duke. 

" Are you married ? " 

" No, ma'am." 

" You live alone, then ? " 

Swiftly the Duke reflected. " I got a brother, ma'am, 
but 'e do be kind o' — kind o' weak." 

" A pair of you, / think ! " she remarked rather dis- 
concertingly, as she turned and marched off. The 



THE DUKE^S ALLOTMENT 315 

Duke returned to his cottage and decided, over a pint 
of hock and a bottle of seltzer, that he had come out of 
the interview with much credit 

He did not hurry back to work after lunch. Why, 
he reflected, should he ? None of the other men were 
working on their allotments. This fact seemed rather 
strange to him, since he overlooked the circumstance 
that harvest was in full swing and all his supposed com- 
peers busy from dawn till late evening in the fields; 
but, knowing that he was strange to his surroundings, 
he waited patiently for an explanation. He lit his pipe 
— a clay pipe, coloured by and borrowed from one of his 
stableboys, and sat on the fence in an agreeable medita- 
tion. The rain had ceased, and the afternoon was 
mild. 

** What more in reality," he exclaimed, " does a man 
want than this? I was quite right to insist on an 
entirely simple dinner." He paused and added : " After 
all I will do a little weeding. 

When he had done quite a little weeding, a thought 
struck him. He repaired to the cottage and called 
Frank. Frank appeared ; he also wore corduroys and 
other suitable habiliments. *'Very good, Frank, very 
good. You're really an intelligent man. If a young 
lady calls, you're an idiot." 

" I — I beg your Grace's pardon ? " 

" If a young lady calls, you're to appear to be an 
idiot." The Duke, as he spoke, smiled over the reflec- 
tion that his order to Frank embodied nothing very 
unusual. 

" Very good, your Gracel What's Monsieur Alphonse 
to be?" 

*' If he must exist at all he'd better be in bed — with 
something a trifle infectious," answered the Duke, after 
a moment's reflection. 

^ Very good, your Grace. Burgundy or champagne 
at dinner ? The chambertin appears to have recovered 
from the journey." 



3i6 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

'* Then let me have the chambeitiii»^ said his Grace. 
" Dinner at seven. I feel as if I should be hungry. I 
am now going to take a walk." 

On his walk through what proved to be exceedingly 
pretty country, the Duke meditated, in admiration 
mingled with annoyance, on the excellent organisation 
of English rural parishes. TThe immediate notice taken 
of his arrival, the instantaneous zeal for his moral wel- 
fare, argued much that was ^^ood — ^the Duke determined 
to say a few words about it m the House of Lords— but, 
on the other hand, it certainly rendered more difficult 
his experiment in the simple life — to say nothing of 
necessitating his adventurous excursion into the Somer- 
set dialect. 

"She is probably actuated," he concluded, "by a 
groundless fear that I shall resort to the Nonconformist 
chapeL" 

Seven o'clock found him seated before his brightly 
furnished dining-table. The table was of deal, but it 
was covered with damask, decked with silver, and orna- 
mented by the chambertin. The Duke had a fine 
appetite, and fell to cheerfully on Monsieur Alphonse's 
creations ; these were studiously rural in their character 
— Watteau-like confections. Monsieur Alphonse was 
dreaming of the Petit Trianon. 

The cottage was not large ; the sitting-room was in 
close proximity to the door. A sharp rap of some- 
body's knuckles on the door startled him, just as he 
was finishing his first glass of chambertin. He was in 
demi-toilette — a dress jacket and black tie. It should 
be added that, although daylight prevailed outside, the 
blind of the window was carefully drawn down. 

The knock was repeated — rather impatiently. 
"Frank!" called the Duke in a voice carefully 
modulated. 

" I'm on my way, your Grace," Frank answered, 
putting his head in at the door. " I merely waited to 
put on a blanket over my dress-coat. Monsieur AU 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 



3'7 



t)nse has got into bed. He looks very natural in his 
cial apron, your Grace." 
Good," said the Duke. "Don't permit the person 
enter." He smiled slightly as he regarded Frank, 
3 had hastily assumed a red blanket, striped with 
e, and wore his hair brushed up straight from his 
The next moment the Duke heard the door of the 
tage open, and one of the sweetest voices he had 
ever listened to in his life softly pronouncing the ques- 
tion : " Oh, please, are you the man Devil ? " 

" I really ought to have recollected to tell Frank 
about that little mistake of mine," thought the Duke, 
smiling. 

His smile, however, vanished as he heard Frank, in 
answer to the question, shout with extraordinary vigour : 
" Yahoo, yahoo, yahoo ! " 

" This will never do," said the Duke, rising and laying 
down his napkin. " The fellow always over-acts, I 
said idiocy — not mania." 

It appeared to do very well, all the same, for the 
sweet voice reniarked, with no trace of surprise, " Oh, 
of course, you're his poor brother; mamma — I'm Miss 
Hordern, you know. Miss Angela Hordern — told me 
about you. Please don't let yourself become nervous 
or — or excited." 

Monsieur Alphonse's voice suddenly broke forth, 
crying loudly: " 1 have ze fevaar — ze fevaar — veri bad 
fevaar ! " 

'^ Point dt stle! Talleyrand was right," said the 
Duke sadly. 

"Who's that?" cried Miss Angela. "Is some poor 
man ill in there? Oh, it's not Devil himself, is it?" 

No answer came from Frank, unless a realistically 
idiotic chuckle, faintly struggling, as it seemed to the 
Duke's ears, with more natural mirth, may be counted 
^ksuch. 
^v" I must see this girl," said the Duke. 



31 8 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

"* I think rd better call again to-morrow^'* said Ifiss 
Angela. ** I'm in a hurry now — it's Mothers' Meetii^ 
night I'll come in to-morrow. Will }rou give this to 
your brother ? Mamma sent it Can you understand 
me, poor fellow ? 

*' Yahoo, yahoo," murmured Frank. 

The door closed. The Duke dashed to the window, 
furtively drew the blind a little aside, and looked out 

"^ Upon my word I " said the Duke. " Yes, upon my 
word I" he reflected, twisting his moustache as h^ 
returned to the table. 

Frank entered, holding a silver salver. *' With Miss 
Angela Hordem's compliments, your Grace." 

'' Thank you, Frank. You can serve the fish ; and 
beg Alphonse in future to wait for his cue." 

" Very good, your Grace." 

Frank withdrew, and the Duke examined the paper 
which he had taken from the salver. It acquired a 
certain interest from having passed through Miss 
Angela's hands. The Duke fingered it delicately and 
eyed it pensively. It was entitled "A Dram for a 
Drinker; or, Just a Drop to do you Good." 

*' A neat title," the Duke mused, '* but perhaps liable 
to defeat its own object by evoking a reminiscence too 
pleasurable." 

Frank entered with the fish. '' Frank, I am at home 
next time Miss Hordern calls. You are not — ^nor 
Monsieur Alphonse." 

"Very good, your Grace," Frank answered. "Your 
Grace will answer the door yourself? " 

The Duke had overlooked the point. He did not 
feel that he could answer a door at all plausibly. 

''Leave it on the jar," he commanded, in a happy 
inspiration. 

But when he was left alone his brow clouded a little. 
" Suppose the mother comes I " he thought His face 
cleared. '' She shall see Alphonse and Frank. And I 
will see Miss Angela." He lit his cigar with a composed 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 



3'9 



cheerfulness. " It is impossible," he said meditatively, 
"to deny the interest of a sociological experiment. I 
am, however, inclined to hope that it will rain very hard 
to-morrow," He stroked his back warily as he slid into 
K chair. 



II 

1 rose early the next morning — and observed the 

Kther anxiously. It rained heavily. "Good," said 

1 feeling his back. "One can't dig in the wet. I 
"1 have time to arrange affairs." 

^e had, in fact, tasks of no small difficulty to achieve. 

"Tie first was with Monsieur Alphonse. The Duke 
lourteously requested the chefs presence, Frank being 
the intermediary. Alphonse came. 

"Monsieur," said the Duke, "I have to make a 
communication to you." 

'* H^las, Monsieur le Duel" said Monsieur Alphonse. 

" I shall not dine to-night. No, I sha'n't have any 
dinner at all to-night." 

" But this is worse than anything 1 had expected t " 

" I shall have tea — at seven." 

"Mais " said Alphonse, 

" Bread-and-butter, thickish ; and tea — the tea of the 
grocer du pays'' 

" Mishicorde ! ! Monsieur le Due will sup ? " 

" Possibly. As for tea, I understand that it would 
be appropriate if you added a shrimp. Monsieur, we 
play a parti" 

" A part. Monsieur It Due? " 

"There's a lady in the case, Alphonse." 

" Everything explains itself I" cried Alphonse, looking 
as though he might be about to throw himself on the 

Iulce's bosom. "And she loves ze shrimp?" 
l! Adores it" 
I It is not to be had in this wilderness, I fear." 



.J* 



310 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

''No, Alphonse. Go and get it — at Greenwich, or 
Wapping, or wherever it lives. Leave at once. Be bade 
at six-tlurty. Good-bye» Alphonse." 

" A lady in the case I I will find ze shrimp I " said 
Alphonse, as he left the parlour. 

Frank remained to be dealt with. The Duke 
summoned him, and addressed him with a serions 
air. 

•* You are attached to me, Frank ? " 

" Yes, your Grace." 

'' I wish to be alone to-day. Have the goodness to 
occupy Mrs Hordem's attention." 

" I don't rightly know how to do it, your Grace." 

<' What day of the week is it ? " 

" Sunday, your Grace." 

''A fortunate circumstance. One doesn't dig on 
Sundays ? " 

" No, your Grace." 

" The rain may stop for all I care," said the Duke. 
" Go and call on Mrs Hordem, Frank, and get taken to 
church. Mitigate your mental inferiority to a reason- 
able extent ; and say that the man with the fever has 
been removed." 

" How, your Grace ? " asked Frank. 

" Don't trouble me with details. Do as I tell you." 

" Very good, your Grace." 

" And let Miss Hordem arrive here at seven a'clock." 

" Yes, your Grace." 

''That will do, Frank. I shall not go out to-day. 
Leave the corduroys on the bed." 

" Thank you, your Grace." 

" And, Frank, in case I change my mind, let there be 
a motor-car here and a table at the Savoy this evening, 
rather late." 

" ril attend to it at once, your Grace." 

There was more work than usual at the local tele- 
graph office before ten that morning. But no one 
connected it with the cottage at the allotments. The 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 311 

pDung woman in charge understood that a gentleman 
kd lost his motor-car. 
I The simple device of sticking on his door a short 
ptice that a case of infectious disease awaited removal 
I the workhouse infirmary secured for the Duke a 
fciiet day. He sat behind his blind and observed his 
tighbours, who, in the intervals left them between the 
taims of devotion and those of conviviality, inspected 
lleir allotments and his. His appeared to the Duke to 
fcmmand a disproportionate amount of attention. He 
Wed that he must have dug up something prematurely 
kFrank had omitted to acquaint him with the course 
T husbandry initiated by his predecessor. The 
fughter of his neighbours somewhat jarred his sensi- 
ve spirit. And they certainly stared a lot at his shut 

aoor, his forbidding notice, and his blind so carefully 

drawn. He was also vexed by a sudden thought that, 

it being Sunday, Miss Angela might have to go to 

church and would not come to tea. 

" However I made my wishes quite clear to Frank," 

he murmured, hoping for the best. 

At one o'clock Frank returned by a circular route, 

and entered from the road, through the back-yard, which 

obviated the necessity of crossing the ailotments. He 

served a cold luncheon. 

" You've arranged matters ? " 

" Yes, your Grace. The young lady will call at seven, 

with some jelly for your bad throat." 
" I was rather afraid she might wish to go to church, 

Frank." 
"Yes, your Grace; but, as you are too ill to go, the 

vicar thinks that it will do just as well if she comes and 

reads the Lessons of the Day to your Grace." 
" That it will do just as well ? " 
" That was the vicar's expression, your Grace." 
" Ah, he spoke from a professional point of view, 

no doubt. The arrangement is quite satisfactory. How 
did you get on with Mrs Hordern— and at church?" 



S%2 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

" I did very well, your Grace, since your Grace is kind 
enough to inquire. With reference to last night, I ex- 
plained that my attacks of mental afBiction were inter- 
mittent, though frequently recurrent But the doctor is 
to come and see me to-morrow — ^by Mrs Hordem's 
orders, your Grace." 

** ' Sufficient unto the day 1 ' " said the Duke serenely. 
** You will remove that notice from the door as soon as 
our neighbours have started for evening church— or 
chapel." 

The afternoon wore itself slowly away, the Duke 
finding himself afflicted with some d^[ree of emtmi. 
" Is there no situation in life, however humble, however 
laborious," he said, " that is free from this plague ? It 
is, indeed, a lesson to me that we should be content with 
our several stations." He went to his bedroom, snatched 
a short repose, and, rising in better heart, assumed his 
corduroys. 

At six- thirty a large motor-car broke down opposite the 
village inn. The chauffeur announced that the necessary 
repairs would take some time. He took some time him- 
self, and some refreshment, before he set about them. At 
six-fifty Frank, returning from a little stroll in the neigh- 
bourhood of the inn, reported the arrival of Monsieur 
Ferdinand, his Grace's chief chauffeur, and removed the 
notice from the door of the cottage. He laid tea and 
withdrew. Everything was ready except the shrimps. 
There was, as yet, no sign of the shrimps, nor of 
Monsieur Alphonse. 

" It can't be that Alphonse will fail me ! " thought the 
Duke uneasily. The shrimps, although not absolutely 
essential, constituted an artistic detail particularly con- 
gruous with his taste. 

Precisely at seven o'clock he saw Miss Hordem 
approaching. With enormous pleasure he noted the 
graceful outline of her figure as she crossed the allot- 
ment; with less pleasure he observed that she was 
accompanied by what is termed a " growing lad " of 



THE DUKE^S ALLOTMENT 323 

about fourteen. ''These precautions aren't very com- 
plimentary/' thought the Duke. 

Her knock sounded on the door. The Duke fell into 
a doze. She knocked again. 

" I do hope he's not — not queer again to-day," said 
Angela. 

" The door's open : let's go in and look. I'm not afraid." 

He heard them enter the house ; he rose and opened 
the sitting-room door. 

" Oh, there you are I Good-evening. May we come 
in ? Mamma would have come and let me go to church, 
only she's got such a bad headache that she's been 
obliged to go to bed." 

The Duke made no immediate reply. Angela came 
in, followed by the boy. The boy put down on the 
table a round parcel which he was carrying. 

" Jelly," thought the Duke. 

Angela laid down a volume. 

" Lessons," the Duke surmised. 

" Oh, but you haven't had your tea yet I " said Angela. 
" I'm afraid we are interrupting you ? " 

" It's laid for two^' remarked the boy. 

" Himself and his poor brother, Tommy ! " 

" I do be proud " began the Duke. 

But suddenly the door from the kitchen opened and 
Monsieur Alphonse appeared. He carried a large 
plate loaded with shrimps. 

''Ze shrimp I" he cried triumphantly, waving a 
napkin which he held in his other hand. 

" Crikey, who's this ! " cried Tommy. 

Well he might I Monsieur Alphonse wore a tight- 
fitting frock-coat, a waterfall tie of huge dimensions, 
pearl-grey trousers, white spats, and patent-leather 
boots, a red rose in one lapel of the coat, and in the 
other the blue ribbon of the Order of St Honoratus of 
Pomerania, bestowed on him by his Serene Highness 
the Reigning Duke, on the occasion of the latter's 
coronation banquet 

X3 



334 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

The Duke was vexed. " Monsieur Alphonse." he 
said, " I did not ring," Naturally he forarot the absence 
of a bell. 

" Mais, Momuur U " 

The IJuke arrested his words mth a gesture, and 
turned to Angela. 

■■ Further concealment, madam, is, I fear, useless. I 
am not what I seem. May I rely on your honour?" 

Angela fixed her charming blue eyes on the Dtikc. 

"But who are you? And what does it mean?" 

There is no telling what explanation the Dute 
intended to proffer; for at this instant Tommy cried, 
with every appearance of agitation : " Angela, Willie 
Anderson was right ! It is them ! " 

" Them 1" said Angela affrightedly, and sank into a 
chair. 

" Who's Willie Anderson, my boy ? " asked the Duke 
kindly. 

" He's the Chief Constable— and you'll soon find it 
out. Ifyou did take the silver plate, you needn't have 
knocked old Lady Culverstone down with the poket, 
you — you scoundrel, youl" 

" I knock old Lady Culverstone down with the 

Oh, preposterous ! " exclaimed the Duke. He turned to 
Angela. 

" You don't believe that of me ? " he asked in a tender 
voice. 

"It was supposed they wore the disguise of worl 
men," she answered. " Willie did tell me that.'" 

"Willie?" 

"I'm — I'm engaged to Captain Anderson, the CI 
Constable," Angela confessed, with a pretty blush. 

*' There you are ! " said the Duke, fairly exasperated 
by this additional vexation, "That's what always 
happens to me ! " 

Before he could say any more, Frank rushed in from 
the kitchen. 

" The cottage is surrounded with police 



Chie^ 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 



3-^5 



■bourersi" he cried. "They'll be in at the door in 
1 moment 1 " 

[ To confirm his words there came a loud crash on the 
>or (which Angela had thoughtfully closed after her), 
■he next instant it burst open ; a young man dashed 
■to the room — a good-looking young man — followed 
three police constables and half-a-dozen of the 
tike's curious neighbours. They had drawn their 
inclusions from his strange reserve and his obvious 
bnorance of agriculture ; they had communicated with 
police. Captain Anderson was a smart officer 
^ 3.S.O.). Three London burglars were wanted for the 
IDbbery at old Lady Culverstone's, and were believed 
> be lurking in the neighbourhood, knowing that the 
ftilway and the road to London would be watched. 
I The Duke never hesitated. As Captain Anderson 
ished in at one door, he dashed out at the other, 
pllowed by Frank and Monsieur Alphonse. He could, 
' T course, have declared himself, but such an action 
would have severely wounded his amour propre ; he 
prided himself on carrying out his experiments un- 
ostentatiously, and hated getting his name into the 
papers. 

" Make for the inn 1 " he whispered to his companions, 
as they escaped from the back door of the cottage, 
dashed across its tiny yard, and gained the main road. 

" After them, my lads ! " rang out Captain Anderson's 
military tones ; and the whole force was at their heels, 
Tommy gleefully shouting " Tally ho ! " Only two of 
the more intelligent neighbours stopped in the cottage 
and inspected the Duke's household goods. They were 
afraid to take the silver (it was a special set, used during 
excursions, and bore no crest or arms) but they took 
the chambertin with results surprising to themselves; for 
it tasted mild. 

All the rest went after the Duke, and with them 
Angela, who was as active a girl as one could wish to 
see. Moreover, she was wily ; she knew the country. 



326 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

While the Duke and his companions, holding a lead of 
barely twenty yards, rushed along the highroad towards 
the inn, while Captain Anderson (who was not so inti- 
mately connected with the district) led his pack directly 
after them — Tommy hanging persistently to their heek 
— Angela took a short cut The road cunred. She 
struck across the diameter of the curve, breastii^ the 
undergrowth, narrowly avoiding the gorse, holdii^ her 
Sunday skirt high in her hand, full of courage, eager to 
help her betrothed, eager to help to put a feather in his 
cap, to assist in his brilliant capture of the burglars. 

Thus it chanced that when the Duke, Frank, and 
Monsieur Alphonse reached the notor-car — in which 
Monsieur Feidinand, hearing the rush of hurrying feet 
and knowing that the Duke was occasionally pressed 
for time, had already taken his seat — they were, in- 
deed, clear of their pursuers but they were faced by 
Angela. 

" Jump in," cried the Duke. 

Frank and Monsieur Alphonse obeyed. The Duke 
was following himself with all agility — for Captain 
Anderson was now no more than ten yards off — ^when 
Angela threw herself upon him, gripping him firmly, 
and crying : " Til hold him for you, Willie ! " 

The Duke admired her courage, but r^retted her 
persistency. He could not, without roughness, disen- 
gage himself from her grasp ; but he could lift her into 
the car with him. He did. She gave a scream. " Full 
steam ahead ! " cried the Duke. With a turn of Mon- 
sieur Ferdinand's handles they were off! 

Just in time I Monsieur Alphonse, on the back seat, 
felt Anderson's hand clutch his coat collar just as they 
started. Fortunately Frank had taken occasion to drop 
a waterproof rug over the number of the car at the 
back. 

" Stop, stop, stop, I say I " cried Angela. 

" I regret it deeply, but for the moment I'm not in a 
position to oblige you, madam," said the Duke, as he 



THE DUKE»S ALLOTMENT 



3«7 



wedged her in safely between himself and Monsieur 
Ferdinand, on the roomy front seat. " The local police 
are otherwise occupied — you need not exercise exces- 
sive caution, Ferdinand," he remarked to the chauffeur. 
Ferdinand obeyed his injunctions. 

Nothing more passed for some minutes. They were, 
B fact, all very much out of breath — except Ferdinand, 
ind he had enough to do with his own work. At last, 
fcwever, Angela gasped : " Anyhow, the air is delicious ! " 
■The Duke was gratified and encouraged. " I'm so 
pd you're enjoying the drive," said he. 
P' Please don't speak to me." 

^ 1 fell into the error of supposing that you addressed 
fe, madam." 

" What does it all mean ? " she said — for it was im- 
bsible for her not now to perceive that she was 
laling with a gentleman. 

The Duke replied with some warmth. " It means, 

, simply that I claim, and intend, to exercise 

Englishman's right to occupy or, if you will, to 

buse himself in his own way within the limits of the 

w : and that I will not be interfered with or harried by 

r policemen and so forth while I'm so engaged. Do I do 

any harm to anybody? It's preposterous." 

" I suppose you're mad really," she said thoughtfully, 
"Then let's be mad together for just a little while," 
he suggested. "Come now, you're finding this enjoy- 
able ? ■■ 

"What will Willie be feeling— and thinking?" She 
gave a light laugh. "Oh, I'm glad mamma's gone to 
bed I " she added the next moment 

"She is beginning to enjoy herself," the Duke de- 
cided. 
" You will take me back ? " 

The Duke looked at his watch. "You shall be at 
the vicarage not later than half-past ten." 
"Oh, but that's very late!" 
"Earlier, if you wish, but in no case later After all. 



L 



328 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

Mrs Hordem has gone to bed — and Captain Anderson 
is probably very busy," 

Angela looked at him ; her eyes twinkled a little— or 
maybe that was only an impression of the DuIk's. 

" I've always heard that it's dangerous to thwart mad 
people/' she said. 

The Duke has been heard to say that this young lady, 
whom he entertained that night in a manner which may 
be termed purely fortuitous, was one of the most agree- 
able companions whom it had ever been his fortune to 
meet The praise, coming from him, is high, lliere 
can be little doubt that Miss Angela Hordem, in her 
turn, felt the attraction which the Duke's good-breeding 
and intellectual alertness seldom failed to arouse. 

" I should love a motor 1 " sighed Miss Angela. 

"You're going to have one," said the Duke. **But 
we must have something to eat first" 

"You talk as if you were a prince in di^^isel" she 
laughed. 

The Duke laughed too, reflecting that, as a matter 
of strict formality, he was entitled to the style she 
mentioned. In view of this fact he did not feel called 
upon expressly to deny the suggestion. There can be 
little doubt that his silence, to which perhaps she at- 
tributed too much significance, enhanced the pleasure 
of her ride. 

"I'm to know you then only by that very funny 
name ? " 

In an examination of her profile — for which the 
light still sufficed — the Duke had g^rown abstracted. 
"What name?" he murmured vaguely. 

"The one you told mamma — Devil! That's not 
really your name?" 

" Not exactly ! " laughed the Duke. 

"I should think not," laughed the lady. Herself 
somewhat addicted to colloquial expressions, she failed 
to understand with what accuracy the Duke had phrased 
his reply. 



THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 329 

" I shall think of you as the Prince of Darkness," 
said she with the kindliest glance. 

** I doubt whether much of this is not wasted on a 
Chief Constable," thought the Duke. 

" Are you married ? " she asked. 

" I am not," said the Duke, turning sharply round as 
he spoke. He fancied that he had heard Monsieur 
Alphonse exclaim *'Man Diruf" It must have been a 
mistake. Both Monsieur Alphonse and Frank appeared 
to be asleep. 

" Tm going to be." 

" You've conveyed that to me already." 

" He's such a dear ! " 

" I think, Ferdinand, that we might venture on going 
a little faster," said the Duke. ** Your licence is new : 
we will take the risk." 

Perhaps Miss Angela detected a certain lack of 
enthusiasm in the Duke's demeanour. At any rate she 
said no more about the Chief Constable. From no 
point of view, if we consider the matter, would the topic 
be a grateful one to her host. 

They were on the outskirts of London, flashing by 
Hampstead Heath. 

''Is this actually London?" she asked, somewhat 
alarmed. " You will remember your promise ? " 

The Duke looked at his watch. " Eight-twenty ! 
The Savoy would be rather a rush for you." He called 
across to Monsieur Ferdinand : '* To the cotti^e I " 

Five minutes later they stopped before the Duke's 
small house in a lane adjoining the Heath. 

''Monsieur Alphonse, here's your opportunity. A 
nice little dinner in a quarter of an hour for mademoiselle 
and myself! " 

" It shall be so, Monsiiur U " 

"Quick, quick 1" interrupted the Duke. "Excuse 
me one moment Frank, show Miss Hordem in, and see 
to her wants. I must have a word with Ferdinand." 

Angela Hordem entered the little house full of a 



330 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

pleasurable anticipation. All was ready for them ; firesh 
flowers bloomed everywhere; The Observer and Tke 
Referee lay on the table. She turned to Frank in a 

sudden surprise : 

" He meant to come here all the time ? " 

" No, madam. But this is always kept ready by his 
Gra ^ — by my master's orders," 

" He must be very rich I " 

"I am given to understand that the revenue has 
decreased slightly of late," was Frank's answer, given 
with admirable carelessness. 

" That's all settled," said the Duke, entering the room 
with a cheerful air. "I'm right, Frank, in supposing 
that Sir Gerald Standish is still in the Bahamas ? " 

" Yes, your ^" He caught the Duke's eye^ and 

dexterously ended : " Quite right, sir." 

"Then this car will do admirably," said the Duke. 
" You have no idea," he continued to Angela, ** how con- 
venient it is to persuade two or three friends to allow 
one to register a car or two in their names, especially 
when they happen to be leaving the country. I don't 
happen to be aware whether the practice is l^;al." 

Frank brought in an omelette. 

"Pray be seated," continued the Duke. "This 
particular car will take you home in forty-five minutes. 
Ferdinand has gone to bring it here — and a most 
trustworthy man to drive you." 

" But — but what am I to do with them ? " 

" The man will remove the number of the car, and 
himself return by train- 



" There isn't any train at this time of night— or rather 
at the time it will be by then." 

" Oh yts^ there'll be a train — Ferdinand won't forget 
that." 

"You mean — a special ? " 

" Really," said the Duke, with the slightest air of 
being questioned enough, " they have so many different 
names for trains that I don't encumber my memory 



! THE DUKE'S ALLOTMENT 331 

^rith them. There will, however, be a train. As for 

he car What's this, Frank ? " 

, ''Aiphonse offers his sincere apologies. But the 
lesign, at least, is novel. The way the truffles are 
iiranged " 

** Miss Hordem will excuse our shortcomings. Where 
is the champagne ? " 

" On the ice, your " 

" Yes, yes. As for the car, Miss Hordern, I venture 
to hope that you will accept it as a token of my regard 
— and a reminiscence of an evening which has turned 
out not, I hope, altogether unpleasantly ? " 

•• Oh, I couldn't ! " 

" You accepted the Chief Constable." 

"But he — he's very delightful," Angela said, appar- 
ently eager to convince him of the soundness of her 
judgment 

" So is the car," said the Duke, tactfully avoiding the 
discussion. 

Angela swallowed her last morsel of truffle, and 
drank her last drain of champagne. The sound of a 
motor was heard in the lane outside. 

The Duke looked at his watch and sighed. She came 
up to him and stretched out her hand. 

" And so are you — very delightful," she said. 

The Duke bent low and lightly kissed her hand. 

" How am I to think of you ? " she asked. 

'* We'll each think of the other as of an evening's 
holiday," he said. '* Some streak of variety across life 
- — a dream, if you will — a sample of what we seek and 
see and lose. Or do I put my claim too high ? " 

" No," she said softly. " But I must go back to my 
home." 

" And to your Chief Constable ? " 

She drew away from him, saying, a trifle defiantly : " I 
love him." 

"Yes ; but you've enjoyed your evening ?" asked the 
Duke. 



332 TALES OF TWO PEOPLE 

** Oh, it's been fun I " she cried, with a sudden gurgling 
laugh. 

She darted her hand out to him again* This time he 
pressed it She turned and ran out of the house. At 
ten-twenty-eight she arrived at the vicarage (the Duke 
had left a margin), and wrote to Captain Anderson to 
call very early and fetch away a motor-car. She would 
keep Mrs Hordem in bed till lunch-time ; and the vicar 
never entered the unused stables. 

As for the Duke, he changed his clothes and drove 
down to the Savoy. 

As he was finishing his coflfee in his dressing-room 
the next morning, Frank said : '' I beg your Grace's 
pardon ? " 

'' Well, Frank ? " said the Duke encouragingly. 

" Does your Grace return to-day to the allotment ? " 

"Surely, Frank, I have told you before now that I 
prefer not to have my movements suggested to me ? " 

"Yes, your Grace; I know, your Grace. But — but 
what am I to do with the allotment and the cottage ? " 

" Pay for them, to be sure, Frank," said the Duke. 

" I've done that, your Grace." 

" Then what remains to be done ? You buy a thing, 
you pay for it, use it, perhaps enjoy it " (he smiled con- 
tentedly) — " what more remains ? " 

" I — I don't know, your Grace." 

"No more do I, Frank. You can take away the 
breakfast" 



THB Hn'BRSIDB PKBSS UMITmOi, BDHONIICK. 



A CATALOGUE OF BOOKS 

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26 



Messrs. Methubn's Catalogue 



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26 



Messrs. Methubn's Catalogue 



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ttw. 61. Rft bIu BodIuIoi Buyiuid Ciili.. 
THE MEMORIES OF RONALD LOVE. 

THE E(;LA.M0RE PORTRAITS. Tki,.l 



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B«1ac*OMli(8.). MRS. CURGENVEN 

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DOMIllA. 
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DARTMOOR IDYLLS. 
Bvlvir (JaMX Author of 'Irish IdylU.' 
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WEST 
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THE LAND OF THE SHAMROCK. 
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INGS. 
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%9^^%t%{A.SUmwg^ A STRETCH OFF 

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DENOUNCEIX 
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FIRE 
NO. 



AT A WINTER'S 
THE BAPTIST 



C«ll 



illlfltwMi (Itorry). 
OFTHE •JULIFX' 
C«vtortf (L. C«9«)b 
SITY. 



RIN4 
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THE FOUNDERED GALLEON. 
lOHN TOPP. 
THE MYSTERY OF A BUNGALOW. 

CnffortfOVln. W. K.). A PLASH OF 
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A CHANGE OF FACE. 
THE DOCTOR 

SONS OF ADVER. 

THE VIRGIN 

AND THE hCALES. 

(StipliipX. WOUNDS IN THE 
RAIN. 

ly (C. B.). THE ROMANCE OF 
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ANGELS. 

DlckMa(HarrU). THE BLACK WOLF'S 

BREEU 
Dmcu (8m« J.). THE POOL IN THE 

PKSERT. 
A VOYAGE OF CONSOLATION. IDos- 

trated. 
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Illttstraled. 
Feoa (O. Munrtllc). AN ELECTRIC 

hPARK. 
A DOUr.LE KNOT. 



3^ 



Messrs. Methuen's Catalogue 



Radiator (Jane H. >. A DAUG HT£R OF 

STRIFE. 
PItsstephen (Q.). MORE KIN THAN 

KIND. 

Platcber (J. S.>. DAVID MARCH. 

LUCl AN THK DREAM »■ R. 

Pomst (R. e.). THE SWORD OF 

AZRAEL. 
FrancUCM. B.>. .MISS ERIN. 
Oalloa (Ton). RICKERRY'S FOLLY. 
Qerard (DoratlMa). THINGS THAT 

HAVE HAPPENED. 
THE CONQUEST OF LONDON. 
THE SUPREME CRIME. 
ailctarlat(R. Morray). WILLOWBRAKE. 
Qlaavilla (EriMat). THE DESPATCH 

RIDER. 
THE KLOOF BRIDE 
THE INCA'S TREASURE. 
UordMi(Jnllen). MRS. CLYDE 
WORLD'S PEOPLE. 
Ooat (C P.\ THE REDEMPTION OF 

DAVID CORSON. 
Gray (B. M'Qaeca). MY STEWARD* 

SHIP. 
Halc0(A. Q.). JAIR THE APOSTATE 

HamlltoaCLordEraest). MARYHAMIL- 

TON. 
HarriMB (Mrs. Barton). A PRINCESS 

OF THE HII.LS. Illustrated. 
Haopar (I.). TH K S I N GK K O F M AR LY. 
HoojTh (EnMTMn). THE MISSISSIPPI 

BUBBLE 
•loU' (Mrs. Cafffyn). ANNE MAULK- 

VERER. 
JepsM (Bdnr). THE KF.EPERS OF 

THE PFOPLE. 
Keary <C. F.). THK JOURNALIST. 
Kelly (Florence FlnchN WITH HOOP.> 

OF STEEL. 
LanglMidee (V.) and Bonme (C. H.). 

THK VALLEY OF INHERITANCE. 
Unden (Annie). A WO.MAN OF SENTL 

MENT 
Lorinier (Norma). JOf^IAH'S WIFE. 
Lash (Charles K.). THE AUT(X^RATS. 

Macdonell (Anne). THE STORY OF 

TERESA. 
.Macffrath (Harold). THE PUPPET 

CROWN. 
Madde (Panllne Bradford). THE VOICE 

IN THE r>LSERT. 
.Marsb (Richard). THE SEEN AND 

THE UNSEEN. 
GARNERED. 

A mf:tamorpho>i.>. 

MARVELS AND MVSTERIE5. 
BOTH SIDES OF THE VEIL. 
MayalKJ. W.). THE CYNIC AND THE 

SYREN. 
Meade (L. T.). RESURGAM. 
Monkbonse (AHan). LOVE IN A LIFE. 

Moore (Arthur*. THE KNIGHT PUNC- 
TILIOUS. 



NesMt, B. CMn. BlMtf). THK UTEK 

ARY SENSE 
NorrlsCW. B.). AN OCTAVE. 
MATTHEW AUSTIN. 
THE DESPOTIC LADY. 
OliphaotCMra.). THE fJiDY*S WAUL 
SIR ROBERT'S FORTUNE. 
THE TWO MARVS. 

(M. L.'. AN ENGUSHXAX. 
(Mra. Praak). A MIXED X.\R- 

mnpotts (Bdca). THE STRIKING 

HOXJRH. 
FANCY FREE 
Pme (Rlchari). TIME AND THL 

WOMAN. 
Randall (Joim). .\UNT B£TH1A> 

BUTTON. 

(Waltar). FORTUNE'S DAR- 
.INC. 

RayMT (Olhra PrattL ROSALBA. 
Rhys (Oraca). THE DIVKRTKD VIL- 
LAGE 
RIckert (Bdlth). OUT OF THE CYPRESS 
SWAMP. 

Roberton(M. H.>. A GALLANT QUAKER 

Rvssell. (W. Omrk), ABANDONED. 

Sanaders (Marshall). ROSE A CHAR- 
LITTE. 

Seraaaat (Adaliiie). ACCUSED AND 

ACCUSER. 
BARBARA'S MONEY. 
THE ENTHUSIAST. 
A GREAT LADY. 
THE LOVE THAT OVERCAME. 
THE MASTER OF KEECHWCX)D. 
UNDER SUSPICION. 
THE YELLOW DIAMOND. 
THE MY.<;TKRV ok THE MOAT. 
THE PROGRESS OK RACHAEL. 
Shannon (W. F.). JIM TWELVES. 

Stephens (R. N.). AN ENEMY OF THL 

KING 

Strain (E. H.). ELMSLIE'S DRAG NET. 
Stringer (Arthnri. THE >ILVERPOPP\'. 
Stnart (Bsmt). CHRISTALLA. 
A WOMAN OF FORTY. 

Satherland (Duchess of)* ONE HOUR 

AND THE NEXT. 
Swan (Annie). LOVE GROWN COLD. 
Swift (Benjamin). SORDON. 
.^IREN CITY. 
TaiMoeray (Mrs. B. M.). THE ROYAL 

QUAKER. 
Thompson (Vance). SPINNERS OF 

LIFE, 
Trafford-Tanaton(Mrs.E.W.). SILENl 

DO.MINION. 
Upward (Alien). ATHELSTANE FORD. 
Waincman (Paol). A HEROINE FROM 

FINI-\ND. 
BY A FINNISH LAKE. 
Watson (H. B. Marriott). THE SKIRTS 

OF HAPPV CHANCF.. 

•rack.' TALES or DUNSTABLE WEIR. 



Fiction 



39 



Book! ftnr Boji and Oirlt 

lUmtrmfd. Crown 8tw. 3^ . M 
iVeu. or DoKOTHV. By Mrs. 

tD*RooM Doc. By Idith E. 



SvD Bklton : Or, the Boy wbo wooM Mt f» 

to Sea. By G. ManvilU Fcnn. 
Thk Rkd Gnangb. By Mrs. Molwwortb. 
A GiML or THK PaoruL By L. T. IfMde. 

Sec*md EditMn, 
Hbmv Gir«v. By L. T. M^adc af. &£, 
Thk Honourablk Miss. By L. T. Meade. 
Stc&md iUUt90n, 

ArSLLAK's VovAGB. By W. I Thrrb was ones A Pmncic By Mrs. M. £. 
L Tkhnd E-titim. Mann. 

r Madam K db Momlvc. By \ WHrN Arnold combs Homb. By Mfk M. K. 
''MdllcMori" Mann. 



or TMB Juurr. By Harr>' 
t. Ity Locas Malet. Sscpmi 



The Ho¥«1b of Alonadre Domas 

HtLfcNB DB CmAVBBNV. 



RBfc or CArXAIN PAMrMIUU 



Beiog the irrt part 



Fatb, 

ULir. 

r ErrsTBiN 



of ttia Refvat's Daochter. 
Lot'i9»s DK ui Vallibrk. B«ing tlia first 



part of Thb Vioomtb db Bbacbuwiib. 
Doable VolwM. 
MaItrb Adam. 

Tmb Man in tub Ibon Mabic. 
the second part of Tmb Vioomtb dk 
Bbagblonnb. Doobk vdoBM. 
Thb Mouth or Hbix. 
EXTBR. Being the fir^t part of Nanom. DooMe voIubm. 

Paulinr : Pascal Bbvno ; and BoMTSKoa. 
PkBB La Ruimb. 
Thb Princb or Tmibv»s. 
r Brotmbiu; and Otho inb ! Thb Rbminiscbhcbs or Antony. 

Robin Hooo. 

Tmb Snowball and Sultahbtta. 
Sylvan DiRB. 

TaLBS or TMB SvrBNNATVRAL. 

Thb Tmrbr Mvskbtkkr^ Wiih 
Introdoctaoa Iry Andrew Laag. 
volnrac. 

TwBNTY Ybabs ArTBK. DobUs 



KB D'Habmbmtal. Ilouble 

ESTBR. Bet! 

Moosorcau. 
\ Son. 



ACQUOT. 

MAmcB 



kSSACRB. Betngiha first part of 

91. 



a loof 



rARBB. Being tbe saoood part . Tmb Wild Dvck Shootbr. 

Tms Wolt-Lbaosb. 

MethMA't BizpeBBj Booki 



ILX LOVE AND LOUISA. 
I). PRIDE AND PRE- 

•tfl. A ROMAN MYSTERY. 
Irvw). BY STROKE OF 

l(8.V FURZE BLOOM. 
: ZITA. 

: SQUIRF.. 

iR OF THE SEA. 

FAIRY TALES. IDosUBlad. 

»ENNY. 

IHERS. 

n. JENNIE BAXTER, 

ST. 

«T*OF ALARMS. 

ESS TEKLA. 



THE MUTABLE MANY. 
BiBiiM(E. P.). DODa 
Brwti rClMrlBtto). SHIRLEY. 
BrvwMll (C L,\ THE HtART OF 

JAPAN. 
Bmnm (J. ItliiHillil. ACR068 THE 

SALT SFJiS. 

Girfhra(Mr»)..(*lou*). ANNE MAVLE- 

VERER 
Cmm (pinmf€). THB LAKE OF 

GUftortf (Mrs. W. 9L\ A FLASH Of 

SUMMER. 
MRS. KEITH'S CRIME. 
CmhmII (F. NOTrajTB). THE NIGGER 

KNIGHTS. 
CorkBtt (JmIIbmI A BUSINESS IK 

GREAT WATERS. 
CrokM' (Mtb. B. M.). PEGGY OF THL 

HARTONS. 
A STATE SBOUT. 



Messrs. Methuen's CATALotiuc 



- " -- -PO). ROrND THE RED 



__ A VOYAGE 

TPCONSOLATION. 

THOSK DKUCHTKUL AMKRICANS. 

emiO^gt), THE MILL ON THE 

naUaUr' (Jmna HA THE GEKEN 
GRAVKS OF BALGOWRIE. 

IUOmJTob). KtCKERBVS FOLLY. 

flMlMliJMn.). CRANFuRb. 

MARY BARTON. 

NORTH AVD SOUTH, 

0«rar4 (DaretltM). HOLY MATRI- 
MONY. 



lkr" 
the crown of life. 

aiMvUlB (EncatV THE INCA^ 

TREASURE. 
THK KLOOF BRIDE. 
aMc(CbarIu). HUNTER'S CRUISE. 
Oriaim (Tlw Brwtbcn). C KIM MS 

FAIRY TALCS. Illngcnied. 
H«« (Anthony). A MAN OF MARK. 
A CHANCE OF AIR 
THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT 

ANTONIO. 
PHBOSO. 

THK DnLT.V DIALOGUES. 
MonaBC <E. W.). DEAD MKN TELL 

NO Ales. 

Ingnlun (J. M.). THE THRONE OK 

DAVID. 
l«Qs«K(W,), THK HUNCHBACK OP 

WESTMINSTER. 
Lavrtt-Yort* (S. K.). THK TRAITOR'S 

WAY. 
UBtOB (E. Lynn). THE TRUE KIS 

TORY OP JOSHUA DAVIDSON. 
torancEdOBX DERRICK VAtJCHAN. 
MUMCUicaO. THE CAR1SSIMA. 
A COUNSEL OF PERFECTION- 
IVUna (Mr*. M. B.). MRS. PKTER 

HOWARD. 
A !«ST ESTATE. 
THS CEDAR STAR. 
ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS, 
MarckBeat (A. W,}, MISEK HOAD- 

LKVS SECRET. 
A MOMENT'S ERROR. 
ManTst (CiDtalnl. PKTER SIUPLK:. 
lACOB FAITHFUL 

ManhtRlehanl). THE TWICKENH.\M 
PEERAOE. 

THK JOSS. 

A UKrAMOSPKOSIS. 



Ni*blt(e.). THE RKD H 
Non1a(W. e.X HUi GKA 

gilesincilW 

THK CRtniT OF THE C 
LclRD LEONARD. 
MATTHEW AUS'IN. 
CLARISSA FURIOS.V 
OUpbantlHra.;. THK L^U. 
SIR ROBERT'S FORTCKI 
THE PRODIGALS. ^ 

lImIh <e. Pblill^J. : 



ns 



EN. 



E TRAIL OF THE SVi 



I CROWN THEE KING. 
PhlllpotU (BdnX THK U, 
CHILDREN OF THK Ul^ 
'6,' THE WHITE WOLF. 
Rfdn(W. Pcttl. A SON or 
LOST PHOPhRTV. 
r.EOBGE AND THK GEVL^ 
RhicII (W. Owkl. A MA 

ABANDONED. 

.MV DANISH SWEBTHKAl 

HIS ISLAND PRINCESS, 

BARBARA'S MONEY. 
THK YELLOW DIAMONIX 
THE LOVE THAT OVERC 



■ (R. S.). 



HAND! 



MR. SPONGE'S SPORTC 

Illiutniled. 
K'^K. MAMMA. IDnmicd. 
VatnUn* (Major 8. S.}. — 



Wallace (Ocaeral Le»X 



WeckcalA. B.I. t-RISONEU. 
WellslH. a.). TMESTI'LEM 
Whlto iPercy). A PASJ 



1 

■ i 







■ ^■' \v- ' 



3 2044 074 327 941 



bl U»\\ .\U.NKI l.l 11'] (»l OVllKULl. 

NOTICES DOES NOT EXEMPT THE 
BORROWER FROM OVERDUE FEES- 



Li TO ^„.